Wie's faith in Leadbetter rewarded

By Randall MellNovember 21, 2014, 11:34 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie’s long, hard climb to the mountaintop this year wasn’t a solitary journey.

She scaled doubt, criticism and even ridicule to rebuild her game with the help of her long-time swing coach. David Leadbetter has been the strongest influence in her life outside her parents.

Wie’s unfailing trust in Leadbetter is a big part of the story of how she rebuilt her broken game. They’ve hung in there together even with so many folks blaming Leadbetter for her failure and urging her to find a new coach.

From Wie’s spectacular surge to celebrity as a teen phenom, to her dismal plummet through injury and slumps, Leadbetter has been a constant companion. Wie says Leadbetter is a large reason she never quit believing in herself. They’ve been to hell and back since she was 13.

“David is kind of like a second father to me,” Wie said. “He is definitely one person that has always believed in me, no matter what.”

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With a 5-under-par 67 Friday, Wie is near the top of a leaderboard in yet another big event this year. She moved into a tie for fourth at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, just two shots off the lead. She is giving herself a chance to walk away with $1.5 million on Sunday, the biggest payday in the history of women’s golf. She’s in position to win the $1 million Race to the CME Globe jackpot and the $500,000 Tour Championship winner’s check.

After a frustrating start Thursday, Wie headed straight to the range with Leadbetter.

“We kind of figured out a little something,” Wie said.

For Leadbetter, there’s pride seeing what Wie has overcome winning the Lotte Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. There’s satisfaction, too.

“She’s proven a lot of people wrong,” Leadbetter said.

Wrong about Leadbetter, too.

“People can be nasty,” Leadbetter said. “I always believed there was so much talent there in Michelle, and at some stage it was all going to come out right.”

Leadbetter doesn’t believe Wie has reached her mountaintop yet. With confidence regained, with newfound physical strength, Wie is poised to fuel her resurgence with runs to even greater heights, Leadbetter says.

“Confidence isn’t something you can buy in a bottle,” Leadbetter said. “You have to feel it, and she’s feeling it.

“Michelle’s heading up the ladder, and there’s no reason she can’t climb all the way to No. 1, if she can stay injury free. Nobody out here has the shot making ability she does. Nobody out here can hit the shots she can hit, and her short game is underrated. She can hit these little flops and spinners and has a variety of shots nobody else has.

“And her putting is steady now. I won’t say it’s brilliant, but she’s much more comfortable with her putting now. I really believe if she stays injury free, her best is still to come.”

Leadbetter says there’s a difference in Wie’s team now. She’s leading the way. He says she may still rely on him, and still very much lean on her parents, but it’s different now. She’s in charge.

“I don’t overcoach her,” Leadbetter said. “There are just a few things we work on, and there is always a lot of give and take. She trusts me, but I may suggest some technical thing, and she may say, `Nah, I don’t think so.’ Or she’ll take something and run with it on her own.”

Leadbetter says it’s the same with B.J. and Bo, Wie’s parents. She loves them and still very much values their guidance and the belief they have in her, but she’s ultimately in charge now.

“It’s been a learning experience for everybody,” Leadbetter said. “Her parents have learned. I’m not saying they’ve taken a back seat, but they let her do things her own way. She is very much a free spirit, like a wild horse sometimes. They may say something, where in the past she would acquiesce, and now she may say, `Forget it.’”

Leadbetter says there are a lot of factors in Wie’s emergence this year. She’s better as a player for reasons stemming from something as simple as stronger legs, which make her feet less active and provide a better foundation for her swing, to all the various interests she has developed, from her art to her friendships. He says learning to practice less and more efficiently, to manage injuries and energy, have helped, too.

At the end of last year, Leadbetter urged Wie to put her clubs away for five weeks. Wie did just that. The fact that she is having her best year ever reinforced the importance of time away from golf.

“Michelle is enjoying her life,” Leadbetter said. “She has a really nice balance in her life. In the final analysis, her passion for golf is back.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.