With overdue win expectations return for Wie

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2009, 9:21 pm

From a hotel suite in Honolulu overlooking the golf course where MichelleWie first showed her awesome potential, she looked at newspaper photos fromvarious stages of her youth and realized those days were behind her.

She was 15 and had just turned pro.

Within a year, her income approached $20 million, more than any other femalegolfer.

“I know I have to win. That’s my priority now,” Wie said that day. “Theyall expect me to do better and work harder.”

That was four years ago, spanning 42 starts on the LPGA Tour. Thoseexpectations took a long time to fulfill.

Her face was flush with celebration and relief Sunday when Wie blasted outof a bunker to tap-in range for a two-shot victory in Mexico. She thrust herarms in the air, covered her mouth and before long, she finally tasted that LPGAtradition for first-time winners by getting showered with beer.

It was clear an enormous burden had been lifted.

Wie created those expectations by shooting 68 on the PGA Tour at age 14, byhaving at least a share of the lead on the back nine of three majorchampionships when she was 16, by coming within nine holes of qualifying for theU.S. Open and by developing shots that few other women were capable of hitting.

“For sure, it’s definitely off my back,” said Wie, now 20 and in her thirdyear at Stanford. “I think that hopefully, life will be a lot better. But Istill have a lot of work to do. I still have a lot to improve. It just feels sogreat right now.”

But as one burden is lifted, another is soon to arrive.

The timing could not have been better for the LPGA Tour, which is starvedfor attention and struggling to climb out of an economic morass that likely willlead to the fewest tournaments it has had in years.

The tour finally got rid of its commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, and replacedher with Michael Whan, who is to be introduced in Houston on Wednesday and takesover at the start of 2010.

The LPGA needs star power, and no other player can move the needle like Wie.

She was attracting the largest crowds even when Annika Sorenstam was stillplaying and winning majors.

Paula Creamer was 18 and had not gone through high school graduation whenshe captured her first LPGA Tour victory. Morgan Pressel was 18 when she becamethe youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history. Neither generated as muchattention as Wie winning for the first time in Mexico at a tournament that wasshown on tape delay.

Wie won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, named after the No. 1 player inwomen’s golf. Yet not even Ochoa could not carry the tour. When she was goingfor a record-tying fifth straight victory last year in Oklahoma, it receivedonly local coverage. The Golf Channel did not send a crew to document herwinning streak.

Wie has the kind of appeal not seen since Nancy Lopez—but only if shekeeps winning.

Clearly, her impact on women’s golf would have been far greater had Wie wonmuch earlier. She attracted attention because of her power and her youth, andshe only has one of those left.

Even now, Wie has only one victory. Ochoa remains the No. 1 player, whileJiyai Shin has shown to be the best this year, on the verge of becoming thefirst player since Lopez in 1978 to win player of the year and rookie of theyear in the same season. Wie played 18 times this year and is not among the top10 on the LPGA money list.

To predict greatness after one victory is tantamount to the predictions shefaced when she first turned pro.

Wie winning can only help, although the LPGA Tour still faces a mightystruggle. Sponsorship dollars remain tough to find and the tour does not have anetwork TV deal. The Golf Channel televises LPGA events on a tape-delay basis.And while Wie played a full schedule this year, she also remains devoted to hereducation—and the Cardinal football team—at Stanford.

She is still only 20, but already has been through more than most players onthe LPGA Tour.

Wie lost goodwill in some golf circles by trying to compete against the menbefore she had proved herself on the LPGA Tour. She was 0-for-7 trying to makethe cut on the PGA Tour, although it has been almost three years since she lasttried.

She endured more criticism from the media than any other female golfer in2007 while trying to play through an injury. The worst of it came after shewithdrew from Sorenstam’s tournament while on the verge of shooting 88—whichwould have banned for from playing for a year—only to show up two days laterat Bulle Rock to prepare for a major.

Most impressive about Wie was that through it all, she never lashed out atany of her critics. She earned respect by going through LPGA Q-school last yearand by leading the United States to victory in the Solheim Cup.

And now—finally—she’s a winner.

Among her immediate plans were “definitely bask in the glory.”

The LPGA Tour surely will try to capitalize on this moment, as it should,although the tour should be mindful of the four years that preceded Wie’svictory, and the four years before that when she was girl among men.

Keep the expectations reasonable.

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Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups

By Grill Room TeamJune 24, 2018, 11:33 pm

Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.

That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.

Watch the video below.

The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.

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Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 11:07 pm

ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title

The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.

Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.

Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.

Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.

Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.

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Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”

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Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 9:52 pm

Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)

What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.

Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.

Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.

Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18