Wie blows big back-nine lead as Stanford wins SBS

By Associated PressFebruary 14, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 SBS OpenKAHUKU, Hawaii ' Michelle Wie seemed to have the trophy in her grasp until Angela Stanford and a late stumble got in the way.
 
Stanford spoiled Wies bid for a victory in her first start as an LPGA member, overcoming a three-stroke deficit to win the season-opening SBS Open by three shots Saturday.
 
Stanford closed with a 2-under 70 for a 10-under 206 total at wind-swept Turtle Bay, giving the Texan her fourth career win and third in seven starts. Wie had a disappointing 73 for her second straight runner-up finish in the tournament.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie led by three strokes with eight holes to play before losing by three. (Getty Images)
Missing the trophy by a little bit is going to motivate me to work even harder for the next one, said Wie, who hasnt won since claiming the USGA Womens Amateur Public Links Championships at age 13.
 
The 19-year-old hometown favorite was cruising along, but made a double bogey on No. 11 that gave Stanford the opening she needed.
 
That was the moment I needed to step up because that was my chance, Stanford said.
 
Wie said she felt she played solid.
 
I just had one bad hole, Wie said. Im kind of disappointed in that. But theres a lot of positive things I can take from this week.
 
Down by a stroke with six holes to play, Stanford used her irons to shoot her way back to the top of the leaderboard. She birdied three straight holes to reach 10 under and take a two-stroke lead over Wie with three holes to play.
 
The first birdie putt in the run, set up by a 5-iron into a brisk right-to-left wind, was from 15 feet.
 
I needed to see a ball go in. That was huge, she said.
 
The late birdie flurry provided Stanford complete momentum, while Wie helplessly watched. Wie had a chance to cut into Stanfords lead on No. 16, but lipped out a 3 1/2 -foot birdie putt. She then bogeyed No. 17 by hitting into the sand twice.
 
Conditions were tough and my putts didnt drop in. Things just didnt go my way, unfortunately, Wie said.
 
Stanford broke a big smile and was drenched with beer by other players after tapping in for birdie on 18. The win was surprising because she didnt feel quite ready to start the season.
 
The 31-year-old Stanford was the hottest player on tour to end the season and has emerged as one of the top golfers in the world. In the final six events of 2008, she won twice and finished no lower than a tie for sixth. She is ranked No. 8.
 
Stanford is off to a fast start after coming off a career-best season where she broke $1 million for the first time and finished ninth on the money list.
 
Wie appeared to be sailing away with the SBS title after the turn. She went up by three strokes with eight holes to play when Stanford ran into trouble around the green and bogeyed the par-4 10th.
 
Even Stanford had doubts whether she could recover.
 
Standing on the green at 10, I thought, I dont know if I can make up three shots in this wind, Stanford said. She was going to need a mistake.
 
And thats what happened.
 
Wie double bogeyed the par-4 11th, flubbing her 3-wood tee shot into the right marsh and sending her chip short into the rough. That dropped her to 8 under and saw her lead reduced to just a stroke, which Stanford just breezed by.
 
I was really quite shocked when her ball went in the hazard, Stanford said.
 
Stanford said thats when experience over her younger competitor paid off.
 
That front nine, she didnt make a mistake. She was doing everything she needed to do win, Stanford said. When she made the mistake on 11, she didnt rebound. You could see her youth. In that she didnt rebound as fast as she could have, I think.
 
Stanford and Wie started the day tied for the lead at 8 under. The last time Wie led going into the final day was at the 2006 U.S. Womens Open where she was tied with Annika Sorenstam and Brittany Lincicome. Wie ended up tied for third.
 
The finish was Wies 14th top-10 in her career and best since the 2006 Evian Ladies Masters. Wie also played the first SBS in 2005 as a 15-year-old amateur and tied for second.
 
Obviously, its not like I want to be second place all the time, Wie said.
 
Stanford, of Saginaw, Texas, said its just a matter of time for Wie. Shes got all the shots. Once she figures things out, she is going to be just fine.
 
Conditions at Turtle Bay were breezy for a second straight day with a few passing showers. Players tried to stay conservative with the wind.
 
(Stanford) just seemed very stead and very in control, Wie said.
 
Wie took sole possession of the lead when Stanford missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. The uncharacteristic mistake was Stanfords lone bogey of the tournament.
 
Wie went up by two strokes at the turn by sinking an 18-foot birdie putt that had the gallery packed three deep around the ninth green cheering wildly.
 
The lead couldve been bigger but Stanford was able to scramble for par. Stanfords drive bounced on the fairway and sailed left, through the crowd and over the cart path. Her ball came to rest at the roots of a large tree. She took a drop but went up-and-down to save par.
 
The crowd that followed the final group was almost as entertaining as the golf. The gallery ranged from Wies former classmates to real sumo wrestlers complete with topknots to stars from ABC drama Lost, which is filmed on Oahus North Shore.
 
Brazilian-born Angela Park struggled in the tradewinds and had a 75 to tie for third with South Koreas Na Yeon Choi (69) at 4-under 212, six strokes behind Stanford.
 
Taiwans Yani Tseng (72), the 2008 rookie of the year, and Japans Ai Miyazato (71) were 3 under, and Cristie Kerr (69), Sarah Lee (69) and Brittany Lang (73) followed at 2 under.
 
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


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    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”