Wie moves near Open lead with stunning 66

By Randall MellJuly 6, 2012, 11:05 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – From a couple hundred yards away, Suzann Pettersen could detect the difference in Michelle Wie’s game.

Playing behind Wie, Pettersen could see the most obvious sign that something special was finally coming back to Wie Friday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Pettersen could see a flurry of fist pumps.

“I know Michelle has been struggling this year, but I must say, playing behind her, I don't think I've ever seen her make as many putts as she did today,” Pettersen said. “She was fist pumping every putt she looked at.”

In what has already been a long, hard season, Wie found more than a lost putting stroke and lost swing. She found the joy that had been missing from her game.

“I’m pretty stoked to be back in contention and honestly not have to worry about the cut line,” Wie cracked. “It feels pretty good.”

The frustration of so many missed cuts this season melted away Friday with Wie posting a 6-under-par 66, a record score for the two U.S. Women’s Opens held at Blackwolf Run. It was three shots better than Wie’s previous best score in eight other U.S. Women’s Opens.

Wie, a two-time LPGA winner, has six finishes of fourth or better in U.S. Women’s Opens but no top-10 finshes in the event in six years.

Wie pulled this golden round from a season that has been too much of a mess for her liking. She arrived at Blackwolf Run having missed seven of her last eight cuts worldwide.

“It’s really a confidence boost for the weekend,” Wie said. “I’m just going to build on it.”

Wie’s putting stroke, such a troublesome facet of her swooning game, looked renewed in the second round.

Her uncertain jab was gone with Wie needing just 23 putts, 12 fewer than she needed in the first round. A smooth, confident stroke helped Wie with 13 one-putts.

This renewal also has spread into Wie’s full swing.

Enamored for a time of stingers and sawed-off, three-quarter shots, Wie displayed a swing that was longer and more fluid again. Asked earlier this week if she were becoming too mechanical, she said her problem was more a tendency to analyze too much and to try to be too perfect. She said she’s working more now on just hitting shots.

Brittany Lang saw the difference playing alongside Wie on Friday.

“She just looked more relaxed,” Lang said. “My brother made the point to me that Michelle looks like she’s hitting more full shots than she had been playing. She looks like she’s getting more tempo with her swing. She’s a great player hitting stingers, but with the full swing she seems to be hitting it more solid.”

Wie has sought so much help for her putting woes the last few years. She has gone to all the gurus: Dave Stockton, Dave Pelz and Stan Utley. She even experimented with the belly putter, an unwieldy device she tried to master with numerous unsuccessful grips. She has stuck with a standard-length Nike prototype blade the last three months and putts left-hand low.

Over a recent dinner near Wie’s South Florida home in Jupiter, Wie got some sound advice from a trusted mentor, Meg Mallon, the U.S. Solheim Cup captain.

“She is like my second mother,” Wie said.

Mallon’s help was wrapped in lots of encouragement.

“I told her you cannot talk to one great player who has not gone through trials and tribulation during their career,” Mallon said. “We talked about her putting and a couple things maybe she wasn’t thinking about. I watched her at Shoprite in Atlantic City, and I told her she was making better strokes with more commitment, just giving her positive reinforcement. ”

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, another South Floridian close to Wie, also gave Wie a couple putting drills to work on.

Wie’s long-time coach, David Leadbetter, has helped Wie fight through all her struggles. Wie continues to rely on him and recently expanded her team to include Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott and their Vision 54 program. Vision 54’s focus is on the “mental, emotional and spiritual” dimensions of the game.

“We worked on a lot of different drills and just believing in yourself,” Wie said. “Even when you're kind of not playing well, kind of try to look at the positives, and at least bring out one positive, one good thing, that you did and keep working on it.”

Wie understands one great round doesn’t mean more struggles aren’t awaiting. She called Friday part of a work in progress. Still, she needed Friday. She needed the reward for the work she is putting in to turning her game around.

“When you are playing this badly, it can really define who you are,” Wie said before the start of this U.S. Women’s Open. “I want to become someone who gets through it and becomes a stronger person because of it. I’m trying really hard. I’m practicing really hard.”

Mallon likes the attitude.

“By no means does this mean she’s out of it now, but she is doing the right things,” Mallon said.

Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”