Wie shows strength at Kraft Nabisco

By Randall MellApril 3, 2010, 4:36 am
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Michelle Wie muscled her way into weekend contention at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

She was all over the place with her driver Friday on the Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Tournament Course, hitting just five fairways.

That’s supposed to spell doom this week with the deep rough swallowing balls and dreams in equal measure.

Strangely, in her waywardness, Wie showed something that makes her swing coach believe she’s becoming more dangerous than she’s ever been.

“All the strength is back in her wrists and forearms,” David Leadbetter said.

Wie impressively gouged her way to a 1-under-par 71 and a tie for 10th heading into Saturday’s third round. She’s at 2-under 142, five shots behind the leader, Song-Hee Kim.

“I think it’s definitely been a struggle,” Wie said of her battle with her driver. “I’ve been fighting a lot, but I also feel I’m at a good place. I feel like I’m not that far off.”

Wie managed to muscle her way to 14 greens in regulation on Friday despite all the awkward spots she drove the ball. That’s the same number of greens she reached in regulation Thursday when she hit 11 fairways. All week long players have talked about the struggle to advance shots from the thick and sticky rough. Wie regularly muscled smart shots out of that rough and onto safe places on the green. She left herself a lot of two putts while avoiding muscling her way into worst patches around the greens.

Though Leadbetter would rather see Wie splitting fairways, he was encouraged that she fought her way into contention. A year ago, Leadbetter couldn’t have envisioned Wie putting up a 71 from the ugly patches of rough she played from Friday. Though the injured wrists that sent her spiraling into a two-year slump were healing when she played here last year, she lacked the strength of her youthful rise to prominence. She was trying to guide her ball around tight tracks.

“Last year, she would have had no hope from that rough,” Leadbetter said. “It’s sticky and thick there this year. With her strength, with her angle of attack, she can extricate herself.”

Wie averaged 306 yards per drive in her opening round.

“That big lag is back in her swing,” Leadbetter said.

Wie played alongside Kraft Nabisco defending champion Brittany Lincicome, whose power-hitting prowess earned her the nickname “Bam Bam.” They took turns slamming drives past each other. Wie was more than a match for Lincicome.

“Michelle’s long and strong again,” Leadbetter said.

Wie, 20, isn’t going to win her first major from the rough, but her ability to keep herself in the hunt when her driver’s not cooperating may prove critical to breaking through. She gained back the confidence she lost in that slump winning her first LPGA title at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November. She’s playing with more confidence in a major this week than she’s shown in three years.

“I feel like I’m getting better and better,” Wie said. “Hopefully tomorrow I’ll hit more fairways.”

Even with all those errant drives, Wie has made just one bogey over 36 holes.

Wie has a good history at the Kraft Nabisco. She seemed destined to win here someday with her strong debut. The first time she teed it up, she played her way into the final Sunday pairing with Annika Sorenstam and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, who went on to win. Just 13, Wie tied for ninth in that Kraft Nabisco debut. She returned a year later and finished fourth. At 16, she tied for third.

In 19 majors, Wie has seven top-10 finishes, six of them a tie for fifth or better, but she hasn’t contended in one since tying for third at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2006. She’ll be looking to change that this weekend but will need the help of her putter, too. Wie missed a 2-foot birdie chance at the 17th hole, her eighth hole of the day.

“It was stupid, I pushed it,” Wie said.

Wie will be looking for more birdie chances on Saturday.

“I just gotta make more putts,” she said.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.