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.
After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the Nelson's future ...
If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.
Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.
The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray
On Jordan Spieth's putting ...
Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.
He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.
Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.
Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta
On golf and gambling ...
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.
Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.
Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard
Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win
DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.
Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.
He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.
Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.
With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.
As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.
“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”
Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.
That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.
“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”
Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.
“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”
Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.
The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.
“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”
Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.
“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”
Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62
DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.
“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”
Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.
“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”
Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open
DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.
Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.
Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.
“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”
Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.
“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.