Wie facing five days of LPGA Q-School

By Associated PressDecember 2, 2008, 5:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' Michelle Wie tuned up Tuesday for the final stage of LPGA qualifying, which could be the five most important rounds of a career that already has brought the 19-year-old massive fame, millions of dollars but no trophies.
 
One hour east of the Q-school caldron in Daytona Beach, Fla., another talented teen had no such worries.
 
Vicky Hurst, the 18-year-old whom some consider the next great American player, spent last year toiling on the Duramed Futures Tour, which offers scant prize money and even less recognition.
 
She won five times in 13 starts, two of those victories sandwiched around high school graduation, and was the tours rookie and player of the year. She set a Futures Tour record for earnings ($93,107) and her 54-hole score of 198 at the Jalapeno Golf Classic in Texas broke by one shot the record previously held by Lorena Ochoa.
 
Hurst took only three exemptions to play on the LPGA. All she cared about was finishing in the top 10 to earn an LPGA card.
 
Im really proud of myself, Hurst said. I enjoyed playing on the Futures Tour. I just focused on finishing strong, playing my best day by day. I wasnt focusing on winning the tournament, just seeing how low I could shoot. I was having so much fun playing with those girls. It was a blast for me.
 
A straight line ' the shortest distance between two points ' is not always the most glamorous.
 
Wie has been all over the map.
 
She is different from most players in so many ways, starting with her capacity to dream big and hit it long. Wie qualified for her first LPGA event at age 12, played in the final group of an LPGA major at age 13 and a year later entered the record books with a 68 at the Sony Open, the lowest score by a female golfer competing against men.
 
Her popularity at a peak, she had unlimited options and took just as many turns.
 
She could have petitioned the LPGA to waive its minimum age requirement (18) after turning pro a week before her 16th birthday. Despite playing only eight times in her first year as a pro, Wie earned the equivalent of 15th on the money list.
 
Instead, she played on six circuits around the world'the LPGA, Europe, Japan, Korea, PGA Tour and U.S. Open qualifying. Her schedule was irrational at times, especially when she flew from Hawaii to Switzerland to Pittsburgh in consecutive weeks to compete against the men.
 
Then came wrist injuries in 2007 and a stubborn refusal to take time off to heal. That yielded high scores, shattered confidence and bad decisions, none worse than withdrawing from one tournament (citing injury) and practicing on the weekend for the next one.
 
And then she went to Stanford, where she tried to mix college and golf.
 
Now, she has arrived at the most critical juncture of her career. The final stage of Q-school starts Wednesday at LPGA International, and while Wie appears to be regaining her form, she has not competed since getting through the first stage nearly three months ago.
 
The LPGA is desperate for attention, and no one delivers like Wie.
 
But in this case, Wie needs the LPGA every bit as much as it needs her.
 
What other options do we have? B.J. Wie said this summer when debating whether his daughter should go to Q-school. No other player moves the needle in womens golf like Wie, and she would have no trouble getting her six exemptions. But as her father said, exemptions only made sense when she was in high school.
 
No one wants to go through Q-school, although it doesnt mean Wie has failed. For players such as Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak, that was the first stop on their way to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
And if it doesnt work out this week? Hurst proved there are other avenues.
 
It has not been an easy journey for the teenager from Melbourne, Fla. Hurst was 15 and trying to qualify for the Ginn Open when her father died of a massive stroke. Too young to apply for Q-school, she tried qualifying on the Futures Tour last fall and finished first. Hurst felt confident she could earn her card, so she turned pro in March.
 
Six weeks later, she won the first of five tournaments.
 
Wie has tried a little bit of everything. Stacy Lewis, who recovered from a serious back surgery in high school, spent four years at Arkansas and tried to earn her card through LPGA exemptions (the tour did not count her third-place finish at the U.S. Womens Open).
 
Hurst isnt about to offer them ' or anyone else ' any advice.
 
Through my experience, its totally up to what you feel confident doing, she said. Stacy has gone to college and played on exemptions. Michelle has played well and now is going through Q-school. Everyone is different. Everyone peaks at a different age. Its up to you and the people around you who really know you.
 
But the player is the only one who knows if theyre ready.
 
Hurst traveled the Futures Tour with her mother, Koko, and by the end of the year she was making hotel and rental car arrangements, and planning her schedule to keep herself fresh.
 
She is nine months younger than Wie, and already has a job on the LPGA. If she lives up to her potential, fame will follow.
 

Related Links:
  • 'On the Tee' - Coffin and Hoggard debate
  • 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.”

    Getty Images

    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”