Watch Out for Wie

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – I made the drive from Carlsbad to Rancho Mirage on Monday, opting for the interstate rather than the scenic route over the mountains. My journey still afforded some beautiful views and some good pondering time. The first major of the year has developed a strong identity over the past 38 years. Although it wasn’t designated a major until 1983, it made me think how desperately the tour needs more tournaments like the Kraft, not necessarily majors but stops with some glamour and charm. On the flip side, the girls have to play a two-day pro-am before a four-round major. No-one should be complaining in these times, but major and pro-am are two words which don’t sit well together in my view.
I also did a little thinking about the Michelle Wie incident. Whatever your viewpoint, it did make for some intriguing television. Speaking of Wie, I really think she is a favorite this week. Her golf was not quite there at the Kia Classic, but that was coming-off three weeks without any competition and her head in a text book. Wie has the watchful eye of coach David Leadbetter in Rancho Mirage for the next few days to make any necessary tweaks. If the putter begins to befriend her then watch-out, Wie could well become a major champion. She knows this course and area very well and she’ll be sleeping in her own bed; the Wie’s have a place just down the road in Palm Desert.
Ernie Els maybe an adopted Floridian, but he’s a South African at heart. The “Big Easy” hasn’t lost the accent and still loves to root for the Springboks in cricket and rugby. His nation will have a couple of different sports on their minds at the moment though, golf and soccer. The World Cup will be played in South Africa beginning the week prior to golf’s U.S. Open. The host nation will open the tournament against Mexico and it will be a grand occasion for a country with a tarnished past. If things continue to go the way they are, South Africans may well take some time the following week to watch the U.S. Open, because right now, South Africa is dominating the game of golf. In 2010 they have enjoyed five worldwide wins already: Els picking up two on the PGA Tour; Charl Schwartzel with a couple in Europe, and Louis Oosthuizen also winning in Europe last week. We currently have South Africans leading both the PGA and European Tour money lists and five inside the world’s top 50.
Sweden will not be hosting the Ryder Cup in 2018. Instead the Swedish Golf Federation will now focus their attention on the 2022 event. That leaves France, Germany, Holland  Portugal and the city of Madrid, Spain in the running for the biennial competition. It would seem logical, although logic doesn’t always prevail in politics, that France and Germany would be the main contenders. Both have produced Ryder Cup players, with Bernhard Langer having the most significant impact on the Cup and the game as a whole. Both countries have long standing European Tour events with the French Open being the oldest open tournament in continental Europe.