Notes Wie Tees Off with Secretary of State Rice

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Michelle Wie was on the cover of Fortune magazine when she made her professional debut at the Samsung World Championship in October. For her first LPGA Tour major as a pro, she has a short Q-and-A in Time magazine that covers school and playing nine holes with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
 
I thought she was really amazing, Wie said. I look up to her because shes a really strong woman. I cant believe I played nine holes with her. She was kind of a beginner, but she was pretty athletic. She actually hit her driver really well. She liked hitting her driver.
 
Wie said the rest of the day was a blur, although the 16-year-old was in charge of driving the cart.
 
'I was like, 'If I crash, the secretary of state goes down with me,'' she said.
 
She said her favorite subject was chemistry because you get to blow stuff up. And her least favorite?
 
Its kind of hard to say. I think all my teachers read Time, so ...
 
MASTERS WIVES TALE
Mark Calcavecchia was talking about his plans for the Masters when he mentioned what surely is a first on the PGA Tour. Is there anyone else whose wife has never been to the Masters but who has played Augusta National?
 
Thats a rarity, he said.
 
They were dating in 2001 when Calcavecchia played in a silly-season event late that year at Kiawah Island. He and Brenda drove over to Augusta National as the guest of Will Nicholson, chairman of rules and competition.
 
Calcavecchias wife (they married last year in Italy) grew up in Ohio playing golf and knew all about the Masters, so the reaction was predictable.
 
She freaked out, he said. And then she teed off.
 
First hole, the pin was in the same place it was Sunday, that middle hollow to the right, he said. She was up in the back of the green, putting down the hill. I said, This is fast. And we had just been on the putting green, which was kind of shaggy. She putted it 25 yards down the fairway.
 
It got better. Augusta National has only championship tees and members tees, so the men allowed Brenda to tee off at the top of the hill at No. 11 to giver her a chance. She made par. She hit the green at No. 12 and made par.
 
Then she makes bogey out of the creek on No. 13, Calcavecchia said. She shot 43 on the back, parred or bogeyed every hole. And she was excited.
 
Calcavecchia was able to play because he had qualified for the 2002 Masters, the first year of the significant strengthening of the golf course. He missed the cut and hasnt been back since, although he is eligible this year from finishing in the top 40 on the money list last year.
 
But he hasnt been back to Augusta National with Brenda, so on her next trip, shell have to stay outside the ropes.
 
Why no practice round?
 
I havent had the time or the opportunity or anybodys private jet I could borrow, he said.
 
ROAD TO A RULES OFFICIAL
Tyler Dennis scored well enough on his Rules of Golf exam to help officiate at a Nationwide Tour event when he was 16. He played on the Stanford golf team with Tiger Woods.
 
But heres where Dennis is different from other PGA Tour rules officials'he will take a leave of absence in September having been accepted to the MBA program at Cambridge.
 
Dont ask how I became a rules official, he said from the BellSouth Classic.
 
Dennis grew up in Utah and worked at a golf course where the head pro was a rules official. Dennis took the rules exam during a workshop, and wound up helping at a tournament in Provo where the field included Ernie Els, a 20-year-old from South Africa.
 
They gave me a cart and a radio and let me help out, he said.
 
Dennis played one year with Woods at Stanford. Woods left to become the No. 1 player, Dennis stayed and got his degree in mechanical engineering, then spent one year after college as an engineer before joining the Nationwide Tour as a rules official in 2000 and working his way up to the big leagues.
 
This sound corny, but my dad told me to do something you wanted to do, Dennis said. I think this is a great job. I love the PGA Tour and what it stands for.
 
And what does he do with a degree from Cambridge?
 
I not sure what Im going to be doing, Dennis said. But I know Ill be in golf.
 
GONE FISHING
Dont look for Darren Clarke at the BellSouth Classic, where many European tour players go the week before the Masters. Dont expect to see him at Augusta National early in the week, either.
 
Clarke is in the Bahamas this week and said he wont go to the Masters until Tuesday.
 
Augusta is tough enough, he said. And it will be just as tough when I get there.
 
Clarke has a place in Grand Abaco, where he and cancer-stricken wife Heather go to relax. She went to the Bahamas when Clarke played at Doral, where he withdrew after a 75 in the first round because of a wrist injury and went to the Caribbean island to join her.
 
Bone fishing, he said. Thats my Masters preparation. And probably a few beers.
 
DIVOTS
Sergio Garcias 78 continued an ugly trend. He has not broken par in the final round in his five PGA Tour events this year, and his fourth-round scoring average is 75. ... Brad Faxon will take part in the Driving 4 Life Quest for a Cure Open golf tournament May 8 on the TPC at Boston, where proceeds are to help find a cure for Lou Gehrigs disease. Driving 4 Life was founded by Kim Julian, the widow of former PGA Tour player Jeff Julian, who died of ALS. ... Europes 2007 season again will start in China at the end of this year with the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai on Nov. 9-12. The tour then goes to Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia before concluding 2006 with two tournaments in South Africa ending on Dec. 17. ... The Womens Senior Golf Tour has renamed itself The Legends Tour and has four tournaments on the schedule this year, concluding with the Handa Cup on Dec. 16-17 at the World Golf Village.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Players Championship has not been decided in a playoff since 1987, the longest streak on the PGA Tour.
 
FINAL WORD
Its my favorite place to get to and my favorite place to leave. And that was before they screwed the course up.' Mark Calcavecchia, on Augusta National.
 
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