Wie off to solid start at LPGA Q-School

By Rex HoggardDecember 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' They gathered in the early morning chill to see greatness wrapped around a fearless youngster, but that show was playing a golf course away. Instead, the huddled masses that awoke before dawn were treated to a textbook, if not tactically superior, round by a relaxed teen working at three-quarter speed.

Wie Watch ' LPGA Q-School

Round 1
69 (-3); five strokes behind first-round leader Shiho Oyama.
Behind the scorecard: Wies ballstriking was nearly flawless on Day 1, with the teen missing just five fairways and four greens on the more-demanding Legends Course at LPGA International. If there was room for improvement it would be on the layouts slick greens. Wie needed 30 putts on Wednesday, including a sloppy three-putt from 18 feet at the 14th hole.
Quotable: She was really looking forward to this. Most people are like, Oh no, Q-School. But she has been really relaxed and excited about getting a chance to compete again, said David Leadbetter, Wies longtime swing coach.
Sight and sounds: A one-hour frost delay postponed Wies march to a tour card and a round that stretched past five hours made the day seem even longer. So long, in fact, that Wies threesome was placed on the clock for slow play after the 12th hole.

The fireworks those curious souls who lined the first tee on LPGA Internationals Legends Course early Wednesday to watch Michelle Wie begin her quest for an LPGA card were awaiting would come, but on a different golf course and courtesy a different phenom.
Those pyrotechnics were delivered by Japan wunderkind Shiho Oyama who scorched the statistically easier Champions Course to the tune of 8-under 64 in relative obscurity to take the first-round lead at LPGA Q-School.
What those who braved the chill to watch Wie got was Q-School 101, a middle-of-the-fairway, take-no-chances exhibition that is not what the golf world has come to expect from the former world-beater-in-waiting but exactly what the Fall Classic demands.
Pretty simple really, said David Leadbetter, Wies longtime swing coach. The big thing this week is not to make mistakes. That will kill you at Q-School and she only made one (mistake) today.
The recipe for Q-School success may not be sexy, but it is efficient.
For the day, Wie hit just four drivers on the 6,473-yard layout, missed just nine fairways, most of which by less than 2 yards, and four greens on her way to an opening 69 and a tie for sixth in her quest to finish inside the top 20 after five rounds and end her vagabond, professional existence.
Although Wie declined to talk with the media after her round, her play spoke volumes.
Following a sloppy three-putt bogey at the 14th hole from 18 feet, Wie played the final four holes in 2 under (birdie-par-par-birdie). She capped her day with a 25 footer for birdie at the 18th that prompted a high-five with caddie Tim Vickers.
Theres no point looking at leaderboards here, youre really just chasing a score, said Leadbetter, who estimated his star pupil would need five rounds near 70 to earn a tour card.
For much of the day the 19 year old was nearly flawless, missing birdie putts from 12, 8 and 20 feet at her first three holes before getting into red numbers on the par-4 fifth after hitting her approach shot to 2 feet. The birdie, however, wasnt even good enough to earn Wie a skin, as fellow competitor Alison Walshe dropped her approach into the cup for an eagle-2.
For the rest of the day it was all Michelle, all the time.
Even Oyama, who began her day with a 5-under 31 on her first nine holes, played her round with virtually no fanfare. She was followed on the leaderboard by Japanese amateur Mika Miyazato, whose bogey-free 66 also featured an opening nine of 31. Both rounds came on the more user-friendly Champions layout.
I could be more aggressive, said Miyazato of the Champions Course which gave up three of the 17 lowest cards on Day 1. The Legends is more narrow and tight, so maybe that course I will try to play a little safer.
Wie seemed less concerned with safe play as she was with control. Despite morning temperatures that delayed the start of play by about an hour, Wie plodded her way around the pine-lined layout thanks to three-quarter swings and sawed-off follow throughs.
Truth is, if not for a frosty putter Wie would have exceeded her high-profile swing coaches expectations.
Thats as good as Ive ever seen her hit it, said Leadbetter, who spent the week before Q-School working with Wie at ChampionsGate in Orlando. She has really been looking forward to this.
After her opening effort, the central Florida galleries are likely looking forward to Wie getting her turn on the Champions Course on Day 2. And getting her chance to be aggressive.

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - LPGA Qualifying School
  • 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 Ranking 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.”