Notes Big Wiesy Already Feeling Like a Pro
``Just the other day I got my first tax form,'' she said Tuesday. ``I was excited about that. It's not something you should be excited about, but it's pretty cool for me.''
The other sign Wie was now a pro was her bag, with the Sony logo and her name.
``I was so excited when I got my name on my bag,'' she said. ``Usually when you're an amateur, you can't have your name on your bag.''
It already has been a whirlwind week for Wie, who turned pro last Wednesday in Honolulu, then celebrated her 16th birthday on Tuesday. The staff at Bighorn Golf Club brought her a huge birthday cake with 16 candles at the end of her press conference. As she bent over to blow out the candles, her father said from the back of the room, ``Make a wish.''
By all measures, that wish was granted a week ago when Wie turned pro.
``It's my dream job,'' Wie said.
B.J. Wie said his daughter celebrated her birthday earlier this week with friends in Los Angeles. And what to get the $10 million girl who presumably has everything?
``For my birthday, I got a lot of new gadgets from Sony,'' Wie said. ``That was really exciting for me, getting a lot of new phones and Walkmans. I felt like a little girl on Christmas.''
Of course, since she signed an endorsement with Sony, it could be Christmas every day.
MONTY ON THE MOVE
Colin Montgomerie is back where he always believed he belonged.
He is atop the Order of Merit on the European tour, and has already accumulated so many points that he should comfortably made the Ryder Cup team next year without having to be a captain's pick. Better yet, he has soared 68 spots to No. 14 in the world ranking.
But it didn't happen overnight. And his resurgence has taken a toll.
``This is the most I've traveled in my life this year -- by far,'' Montgomerie said during the American Express Championship, where he tied for third.
He didn't have much of a choice. Montgomerie was as low as No. 82 in the world ranking this year, and he was so desperate to get into the top 50 to qualify for The Players Championship and the majors that he traveled all over the globe in search of ranking points.
He started his year in Singapore, then onto Melbourne, and a quick trip from London to Los Angeles to play the Nissan Open. After he missed out on The Players Championship, he went to Jakarta for a final effort to make the Masters, and came up short.
When he got home from San Francisco on Monday, Montgomerie already had traveled about 98,000 miles.
And there are still places to see, people to meet, points to amass. By the end of the year, he will have traveled close to 125,000 miles.
``What is the offseason?'' Monty said. ``China, Japan, Hong Kong, L.A. I've got to go to all those places. Did I say China, Japan, Hong Kong, L.A.? Bloody hell. Crazy situation, but here we are.''
A WOMAN WITH BIG DREAMS
Michelle Wie is not the only woman with designs on competing against the men.
Wie, who already has played five times against the men, was at Bighorn Golf Club on Tuesday preparing for her professional debut on the LPGA Tour at the Samsung World Championship.
About 10 minutes down the road on the Greg Norman Course at PGA West, Isabelle Beisiegel was playing the first round in the first stage of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament.
This is nothing new.
Beisiegel went to Q-school last year and finished last among 78 players who finished all four rounds with scores of 84-80-80-79. The Canadian is listed this year as ``Izzy'' Beisiegel. She did not return messages left on her cell phone.
After this week, her next event likely will be LPGA Q-school.
Beisiegel made only two cuts this year -- the last one in March -- and is 172nd on the money list with $6,653.
The idea that players compete in the Ryder Cup for country instead of cash might be driven home next year the way the schedule is shaping up.
European tour officials say the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England, worth $1.8 million to the winner, will be held the week before the Ryder Cup in Ireland. The week after the matches is the American Express Championship in London, which pays $1.3 million to the winner.
In one respect, the schedule makes sense.
The World Match Play Championship is trying to attract all the top players, but Tiger Woods had a busy international schedule late in the year, while Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson chose to play the PGA Tour. Several U.S. players, assuming they qualify, might be inclined to go to Europe early to get acclimated.
Then again, some players fear that playing as many as 144 holes over four days might leave them worn out the week before the Ryder Cup -- although the matches don't start until Friday.
It would make sense to stage the American Express after the Ryder Cup with all the top players already there.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the American Express did well at Mount Juliet in Ireland in 2002 when it was played the week before the Ryder Cup. It will be held at The Grove next year.
``I think London is going to be great,'' he said. ``It's 25 minutes from downtown, and it's a great facility. I think that will be good, the Ryder Cup will be great and HSBC will do just fine.''
Because Jason Gore won three times on the Nationwide Tour to earn an immediate promotion to the big leagues, the Nationwide Tour will award PGA Tour cards to the top 21 players on the money list instead of the top 20. ... The Senior British Open will return next year to Turnberry, where Tom Watson won in 2003. ... Fresh off a successful Solheim Cup last month, Crooked Stick will remain on the major scene by getting the U.S. Senior Open in 2009. That will give it major events every two years, with the U.S. Women's Amateur going there in 2007. ... The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship next year will be the 36th country on the European tour's schedule.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Counting only the four majors, three World Golf Championships and The Players Championship, Tiger Woods has won 20 of the last 50 times. No one else has won more than twice in these events over the last seven years.
``They're asking me to buy lunch a lot more often.'' -- Michelle Wie, on how her friends at high school reacted to her turning pro.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16
Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:
Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.
Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.
Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.
Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.
Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.
Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.
Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.
Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.
JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking
AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.
Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.
“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.
Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.
Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.
But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.
“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”
Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.
Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond
Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.
She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.
Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.
After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.
“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.
Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).
It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.
“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”
Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.
“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”
Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.
It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.
“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”
Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.
The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.
''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''
She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.
''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''
Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.
''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.
Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.
Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.
Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.
Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.
''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''
She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.
''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''
Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.