Wie Building Her Legend with Small Victories

By Associated PressMay 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
In a span of 12 hours, Michelle Wie made headlines in three parts of the world stretching across 12 time zones.
 
She accepted an invitation to play the Omega Masters in Switzerland, which will make her the first woman to compete in a continental European PGA Tour event. A few hours later, the 16-year-old received a special exemption to the U.S. Women's Open in Newport, R.I., which is sure to infuriate Morgan Pressel and others who believe she should have had to qualify.
 
And to complete this manic Monday, Wie made history as the first woman to advance to the final stage of U.S. Open qualifying.
 
Ever the drama queen, Wie was headed toward a double bogey on the 17th hole at Turtle Bay in Honolulu when she hooked her tee shot so far left into the trees that she hit a provisional. Someone found her ball, she managed to chip out sideways, then fired a 6-iron from 170 yards into 5 feet to escape with par. She wound up with an even-par 72 and was a medalist.
 
How to celebrate such an eventful Monday?

By cracking open the books, not a bottle of bubbly.
 
'She missed school today,' said her father, B.J. Wie. 'She started doing a lot of homework right after we came back from qualifying.'
 
The father turned pages in two books of his own. One was a calendar, the other was a road map.
 
The next stop on Wie's wild and wonderful ride is June 5 at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., site of the 36-hole sectional qualifier where she will compete against dozens of PGA Tour players for a spot in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Then she heads south to Bulle Rock outside Baltimore for the LPGA Championship, which starts June 8.
 
'I think we're going to leave home on the 28th of May and fly to Baltimore and practice there for three days,' her father said. 'Then Thursday morning, fly to New Jersey and practice Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nine holes each day to save her energy. It sounds like a lot, but she can handle it. She amazes me.'
 
Wie has been doing that for some time.
 
For those who say she needs to win, Wie has redefined winning without hoisting a trophy.
 
She didn't win the Sony Open, but her 68 in the second round at age 14 was the lowest score ever shot by a female on a men's tour. She didn't win the U.S. Amateur Public Links -- or a trip to the Masters that came with it -- but she reached the quarterfinals last summer and kept everyone watching and wondering.
 
Along the way, these 'victories' have turned her into the biggest attraction in women's golf, and probably the third-biggest draw in all of golf behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Name another player capable of spiking ticket sales or TV ratings.
 
Against women, winning now seems to be a matter of when, not if.
 
In her only two LPGA Tour events this year, she missed a playoff by one shot both times, one of those tournaments a major. That's what led to her free pass to the U.S. Women's Open. Had she been an LPGA Tour member -- the tour has a minimum age limit of 18 -- Wie would be No. 16 on the money list after two tournaments. The top 35 are exempt to the Women's Open.
 
Keep in mind that her two LPGA events were five weeks apart. It will be easier to gauge Wie's progress this summer when she plays eight times in 15 weeks -- make that nine tournaments if she somehow qualifies for Winged Foot.
 
The U.S. Open, however, remains a dream.
 
The other development Monday is more of a reality.
 
Get used to Wie accepting exemptions to tournaments in Europe and elsewhere. By the time 2006 is over, she will have competed on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, European PGA Tour, Asian Tour and the Japan PGA Tour. About the only other golfer who keeps that kind of itinerary is Ernie Els.
 
'Me and my dad were kind of joking that we're basically playing on all tours this year,' she said. 'I think it's awesome. It's always what I wanted to do.'
 
B.J. Wie first shared this vision at the start of the 2005 season. The plan was for her to become a global icon in golf, which she is now. He could see his daughter playing a men's or women's event in Europe, some in Asia. Most of her events would be on the LPGA Tour, but that doesn't mean she has to join. Wie gets a maximum of eight exemptions on the LPGA; given her global travels, that's all she needs.
 
Take a close look at 2006.
 
Her 14 tournaments include eight on the LPGA Tour, three on the PGA Tour, one each in Japan, Europe and South Korea. She made the cut for the first time against the men at the SK Telecom Open two weeks ago in South Korea.
 
'I think we are following that blueprint,' B.J. Wie said. 'She likes it. The trip to Korea was fantastic. It was so much fun. As long as she has good health and good motivation, she wants to travel around the world like a global player, like Ernie Els.'
 
Wie will be under far greater scrutiny, but she has shown an amazing capacity to handle it.
 
Some will complain Wie is taking a spot away from someone trying to make a living, and that is sure to come up at the 84 Lumber Classic in September as the PGA Tour season enters its final two months and players are trying to keep their cards. But if a guy can't earn one of the 140 or so spots in a tournament, he has no one to blame but himself. As much as the PGA Tour is charging title sponsors these days, the sponsors have a right to invite someone who will help them sell tickets.
 
Winning the local qualifier for the U.S. Open will keep Wie in the news for the next three weeks. No one expects her to make it. But no one can be sure what will happen.
 
These small victories only make her more popular in any time zone.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”