Wie Faces Uphill Battle

By Associated PressJanuary 13, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- First came a stinger tee shot with her driver -- a low, penetrating flight into 25 mph gusts that went 275 yards.
 
For her next trick, Michelle Wie hit a knockdown 6-iron that stopped 6 feet away for a birdie.

It was extraordinary stuff for anyone on the PGA Tour, let alone a 15-year-old girl.

'I didn't feel like I was playing with a 15-year-old girl,' said Matt Davidson, who shot 77 in his PGA Tour debut while playing before a large gallery hanging on every shot Wie hit.

'She has all the tools to be out here,' he said.

But by the end of the first round Thursday, Wie was happy just to save par. Stacked up against the men in the Sony Open, her 5-over 75 was less than ordinary.

Wie battled blustery conditions that led to the second-highest scoring at Waialae Country Club since it changed to a par 70 six years ago. She had a tougher time deciding how to gauge her performance.

She tied nine other men (Fred Funk, Paul Casey) and beat 15 others in the 144-player field. But she also was nine shots behind the leaders -- Stewart Cink, Brett Quigley, Tom Byrum and Hank Kuehne -- who each shot 66.

And she faced a tough task Friday trying to become the first female to make the cut on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias in the 1945 Tucson Open.

'It could have gone both ways,' Wie said. 'If my putting just went in, I think I would have shot an awesome round. But it could have gone a lot worse. I could have easily made five or six more bogeys. But I hung in there.'

Her only consolation?

'At least I'm not in last place,' she said.

Wie last year opened with a 72 and followed that with a 68 -- the lowest score by a female competing on a men's tour -- to miss the cut by one shot.

Her 75 on Thursday put her in a tie for 120th (she was tied for 105th last year), and she was four shots below the projected cut line. Wie stayed on the practice range for nearly three hours after the round, knowing it might take her best to stick around on the weekend.
 
'If I end up at like 1 over par, maybe I'll make it,' she said.

Wie had said she would need some luck on her side, and she didn't have much. Not only did several putts burn the edge of the cup, her morning start turned out to be the bad end of the draw. The wind subsided slightly in the afternoon, and the scoring stabilized.

Still, the average score of 71.813 was more than 11/2 strokes higher than last year.
 
She wasn't the only one who struggled in the wind.

Only 29 players broke par, the fewest in seven years at Waialae.

Among them was Vijay Singh, the No. 1 player in the world, who had only three sub-par holes -- one of them an eagle -- and dropped back to 69 with a sloppy bogey on the par-5 18th.

'It was hard hitting every shot -- the drive, approach shot was difficult,' Singh said. 'It's tough for the boys over here, you know? Going to be tough for a girl here, too.'

Two-time defending champion Ernie Els had to birdie his last hole for a 71, the first time he has shot over par in 17 rounds at Waialae. U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen hit his first two tee shots out-of-bounds and made a 9, but recovered for a 72.

Byrum was even par through 10 holes and finished with two birdies. He was among the 47 players who finished behind Wie a year ago and asked what she shot Thursday.

'She's going to be a great player,' he said. 'I might want to beat her now while I can.'

Paul Azinger, Chad Campbell and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman were among those at 67 on a day in which only 29 players in the field of 144 broke par.

Azinger played with Daniel Chopra, who was 5 over with two holes to play and birdied them both. The threesome joked about how Chopra rallied hard to avoid losing to a 15-year-old, although Azinger put it in perspective.

'There's no shame in losing to that girl,' he said. 'She's incredible. She hits it like a man.'

Wie's only birdie came on her third hole, the par-4 12th, which she played to perfection. She was even par for the round until a few errant drives cost her. A tee shot on the 16th found the left rough, and Wie had to lay up short of the green, eventually missing a 20-foot par putt.

Her only big gaffe came on the 17th, a 187-yard hole framed by the Pacific Ocean on the left and deep bunkers on the right. Her 4-iron into the stiff wind -- the same club Els used earlier -- went right, and she three-putted from 20 feet for a double bogey.

Wie missed a 5-footer for birdie on No. 18, dropped another shot on No. 1, three-putted from long range on the second hole, and it looked as if her round was getting away from her.

She turned it around by saving par from a bunker on No. 3, the first of four quality par saves the rest of the day.

'If I didn't make a par there, who knows what the score would be?' she said.

She had to settle for a 75, leaving her a lot of work to do Friday.
 
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.