At long last Michelle Wie gets 1st LPGA Tour win

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2009, 1:14 pm

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP)—Michelle Wie, LPGA Tour champion.

Imagine that.

Wie ended her long wait by tapping in a birdie putt Sunday at the LorenaOchoa Invitational, and her first tour title may finally quiet the skeptics whosecond-guessed her career decisions and questioned the fuss over a playerwithout a pro victory.

“Wowwwww …… never thought this would feel THIS great!!!!” Wie postedon her Twitter account.

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The 20-year-old closed with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over PaulaCreamer. Wie finished it off in style, hitting a greenside bunker shot within afoot on the final hole.

When it was over, it was time for a celebration that was a decade in themaking. Wie pulled the ball from the 18th hole, looked up to the sky, let out abig sigh of relief, bounced up and down and pumped her right fist.

After all the near misses, after all the expectations, she was a winner.

“It’s definitely off my back,” Wie said. “I think that hopefully lifewill be a lot better, but I still have a lot of work to do.”

Solheim Cup teammates Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome showered Wie onthe 18th green.

“Just seeing them come out and pour beer all over me, it was a greatfeeling,” Wie said. “I’ve always seen it on TV and I’ve always wanted peopleto pour beer on me. It was as great as I thought it was.”

Her parents, dad B.J. and mom Bo, were there, too, for an embrace.

“I think it’s just so awesome, seeing them on the 18th green and huggingthem,” Wie said. “You know, we have been through a lot as a family, and it’sjust so great that they are here to share my highs and to keep me up from thelows, as well.”

Wie earned $220,000 to push her season winnings just over $900,000. The wincame in her 65th LPGA Tour event—she had finished second six times.

Wie won the 2003 USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links, the Stanford student’sonly significant victory until Sunday.

“Right now it feels fantastic,” Wie said. “It’s a great year. I wentthrough some ups and downs … And obviously this tournament is the icing on thecake.”

Pressel (67), Jiyai Shin (71) and Cristie Kerr (72) were three back. Wiefinished at 13-under 275 after starting the day at the Guadalajara Country Clubtied for the lead with Kerr at 10 under.

“Congrats to michelle!!” Pressel tweeted.

Wie first qualified for a USGA event at age 10 and played an LPGA event whenshe was 12. She joined the LPGA this season and has begun to show the sizzlinggame that has made her arguably the biggest attraction in women’s golf.

Dressed in red with her lucky white Solheim Cup shoes, Wie had a few shakymoments but she was steadier down the stretch as her rivals faltered. In thepast, it’s often been the Hawaiian who has stumbled.

The 6-foot Wie stood tall despite a nagging sprained left ankle that forcedher to wear a large, black brace that extends 6 inches above her shoe top.

She had chances to pull away on the front nine, but couldn’t quite do it andfinished with a 2-under 34 at the turn—12 under for the tournament. She wentto 13 under with a birdie on 11, giving her a one-shot lead over Creamer andKerr. Wie bogeyed the next hole when her escape shot from under a cluster oftrees squarely hit a trunk, the ball rebounding into the fairway behind her.

But she made par through 17.

Creamer drew even with Wie with an eagle on 10. But two bogeys down thestretch ruined her chances of victory.

“I gave it a chance, and Michelle played great,” said Creamer, who hasbattled stomach problems for a year and fought off back and thumb injuries. Sheis winless this year after eight career victories.

“I feel a lot better with my golf,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate thatyou’re so close, yet you’re so far away.”

The co-leader with Wie after three rounds, Kerr played even on the frontnine before reaching 12 under with birdies on 10 and 11. After 12 holes, Wie,Creamer and Kerr were tied, but Kerr faded with bogeys on 15 and 16.

Shin, the rookie of the year, also slipped. Tournament host Ochoa shot 69 tofinish six back and Ai Miyazato, No. 2 on the money list behind Shin, was 10back after a 72.

Ochoa and Shin will battle next week for the player of the year award at theseason-ending LPGA Tour Championship in Houston. Nancy Lopez is the only playerto win both the rookie and player awards in the same season, accomplishing thefeat in 1978.

The LPGA, battered by economic problems and the forced resignation of itscommissioner this summer, needed this as much as Wie.

“Literally, when Michelle Wie is atop the leaderboard it’s like night andday and that’s star power,” LPGA spokesman David Higdon said the day beforeWie’s win.

Wie played PGA Tour events when she was 14—the biggest stage there is. Shewas criticized at the time for not focusing on women’s events. She turned pro in2005 before even finishing high school.

She ignored the criticism and, at 16, she was poised to become the firstwoman to qualify for the men’s U.S. Open before her putter failed her. Shortlyafter that she began to lose confidence and went into a long, painful slump thatwas made worse by a wrist injury that ruined her 2007 season.

She has slowly worked her way back, earning her LPGA card for this season,gaining credibility with players and emerging as a star at this year’s SolheimCup, going undefeated in four matches.

“It just taught me so much about handling that situation,” Wie said. “Andactually, I wore my Solheim shoes today. So I felt pretty lucky.”

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''

''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''



Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''

But he was always happy on the golf course.

''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.