Wie not worried about being captain's pick

By Randall MellAugust 14, 2013, 11:21 pm

PARKER, Colo. – When Michelle Wie was told she made the U.S. Solheim Cup team, she cried so hard the contacts popped out of her eyes.

They were tears of joy.

This week means so much to her.

At 23, Wie is battling to find the promise that made her such a popular and polarizing figure in the women’s game. She didn’t qualify for this American team, and she knows there is a legion of critics who think she didn’t deserve one of Meg Mallon’s two captain’s picks. She knows it without having to read newspapers, magazines, web sites or watching TV.

“I haven’t read anything,” Wie said Wednesday after her practice round at Colorado Golf Club. “Meg told me to stay away from it. I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding it. There’s always controversy surrounding Solheim Cup picks, but I’m just so happy to be here that I frankly don’t really care.”

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This week feels like it could be a crossroads for Wie.

This feels like a week that could re-vitalize her game and restore her lost confidence, or a week that could create deeper, darker doubts.

“It’s really corny, but I kept thinking that this was my Greg Norman-Adam Scott moment,” Mallon said.

Mallon believes in Wie, and she believes Wie can turn a successful week at the Solheim Cup into a resurgent run at all of her dreams. Mallon saw what it meant to Scott when he was slumping four years ago and Norman made him a Presidents Cup captain’s pick.

“I just feel like I believe in her so much, and believe in the player she is, and the person she is,” Mallon said. “And that, hopefully, this will be a stepping stone for her.”

It proved just that after Beth Daniel made Wie a controversial captain’s pick for Wie’s first Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms four years ago. Wie took the event by storm, going 3-0-1. She was so formidable, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster predicted that Solheim Cup performance would lead to Wie winning her first LPGA event before the year was out. Inkster was right. A little more than two months after the Solheim Cup, Wie won the first of her two LPGA titles.

Don’t misconstrue Mallon’s intentions, though. Mallon chose Wie because she believes she can help her win this Solheim Cup.

“It’s tough being a captain’s pick,” Mallon said. “There’s a lot of pressure that a player puts on herself being a pick. So Michelle Wie, for me, was a no-brainer in that position.

“She lives on this stage almost every day that she plays. So walking into this environment is not going to affect her. I needed another player like that on the team. I had three rookies already.”

If Wie’s career gets the same kind of bounce Scott got after his Presidents Cup pick, Mallon would be thrilled.

As a young phenom, Wie looked destined for greatness, perfectly designed to dominate the women’s game and take it to a new level of popularity. But there were injuries. There were competitive setbacks, something amiss with her putter and then her driver. There was a detour to Stanford to pursue her college degree while playing the LPGA. And there was controversy with every hard turn her career took. Whether it was criticism of her decisions to play PGA Tour events against men, or, even today, questions about the uber-involvement of her parents, Wie plays under more scrutiny than any other player in the women’s game.

Through it all, Wie has matured into a well-adjusted adult who has a life she values beyond golf. She has a perspective beyond the game. She has the wisdom of a player beyond her age. While her struggles have hurt her emotionally, and she cares desperately about becoming the player she dreamed of being, she keeps showing the ability to step outside her circumstance. She keeps showing there’s more to her than birdies and bogeys.

Still, Wie confesses she is still trying to understand how her life in the limelight is supposed to work.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Wie said. “Just like anyone who is young . . . but the one thing I do religiously is just stay away from everything. I don’t read anything. I don’t watch anything. But when I do come across something, it’s hard sometimes. It’s not easy. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s rainbows and sunshine every day. It’s tough being a professional golfer, but it comes with the territory.

“And I just love the game. I love playing, and that’s what I really focus on. Weeks like this, it reminds me how much I love playing golf.”

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

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It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.