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
 
Score:
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.
 

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  • Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

    Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

    Those plans changed after a few weeks.

    “What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

    “Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

    Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

    The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

    “I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

    S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

    By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Park kept right on attacking.

    The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

    ''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

    Leave that to the players chasing her.

    Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

    Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

    So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

    The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

    Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

    ''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

    Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

    ''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

    That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

    Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

    ''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

    Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

    Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

    ''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

    Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

    Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

    Does anything make her nervous?

    ''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

    It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.