For Wie Friends May Be Hard to Come By

By Associated PressOctober 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Michelle Wie has loads of money in the bank, all because she turned pro and signed her name at the bottom of two endorsement contracts.
 
Making friends might be a little tougher.
 
Wie turned 16 on Tuesday, finally old enough to drive. And while she is blazing her own trails in golf, Wie should expect to hit a few bumps along the road in the form of jealously and resentment.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie may have to earn acceptance on the LPGA through her play.
She certainly won't be the first young prodigy to encounter those.
 
Remember Tiger Woods?
 
``I hadn't done anything on the PGA Tour ... and I got big contracts,'' Woods said last week, recalling the resentment he felt when he turned pro in 1996.
 
Woods had the best amateur career this side of Bobby Jones. He missed the cut the first seven times he played on the PGA Tour, but he shot 66 in the '96 British Open and tied for 22nd in his last major as an amateur. Nike thought so much of his potential that they awarded him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
 
The money was outrageous at the time, and so was the reaction on tour.
 
``Some guys gave me the cold shoulder,'' Woods said. ``Some guys wouldn't talk to me at all.''
 
That didn't last long, as Woods won twice in seven starts to not only secure his PGA Tour card, but to finish in the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the Tour Championship.
 
Then there was Kelli Kuehne.
 
She turned pro at the end of 1996 and brought similar credentials -- two straight U.S. Women's Amateurs and the Women's British Amateur during her All-American years at Texas.
 
Her endorsement deal with Nike sent shock waves throughout the LPGA Tour, where women battle for a fraction of the money paid to the men. Worse yet, Nike had just cut loose one-third of its LPGA staff -- including Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel -- saying it wanted to go with youth.
 
A year later, the swoosh signed up Kuehne for about $1.25 million a year, enormous money for the LPGA Tour, astounding considering Kuehne didn't turn pro until Q-school was over. She had no card, and no place to play.
 
The reaction was so severe that Sports Illustrated estimated 140 out of 150 players refused to wear anything Nike.
 
``Women are very competitive, in case you haven't noticed,'' Kuehne said. ``And women tend to hold grudges -- not just on our tour, but women in general. Once I started playing well, it wasn't an issue any more. I don't think anyone wanted me to fail, but I remember some girls resented me. It's all part of being a rookie.''
 
Wie at least has experience on her side. She has been dealing with resentment ever since she started getting a full slate of sponsor's exemptions at age 13.
 
``When you have talent like that,'' Cristie Kerr said, ``you're always going to have a little controversy around it.''
 
Some players were indignant when she received an exemption last year to the U.S. Women's Open, especially when it was announced as the Curtis Cup team was preparing for a weekend of practice and bonding. All of Wie's teammates had to go through qualifying for the Open.
 
Wie again got preferential treatment this year when the LPGA Championship changed its criteria to award an exemption to a top amateur -- guess who? -- making her the first amateur to ever play in that major.
 
Now comes the money, contracts from Nike and Sony worth as much as $10 million a year. That's about $3 million more than what Annika Sorenstam pulls in, even though the Swede has won nine majors and the career Grand Slam.
 
``She's going to make something like $10 million? For what? For winning one tournament?'' sniffed 17-year-old Morgan Pressel in the latest issue of Fortune magazine that features Wie on its cover.
 
The reference was to the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links that Wie won at age 13, which first cranked up the hype over this Hawaii sensation. Wie hasn't won another tournament since, although no one denies her talent.
 
She has three runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour this year, including the LPGA Championship. She tied for third at the Women's British Open. And in just seven starts, she would have earned $640,870, enough to put her 13th on the LPGA Tour money list.
 
That's why Woods thinks she might have an easier time than he did.
 
``She's been out there,'' he said. ``She has played in so many tournaments out there. I only played in the majors that I qualified for through (winning) the Amateur, then maybe one other. I didn't really do much. Plus, I didn't have success at the tour level, where she has. And that's the difference.''
 
Is she worth what Nike and Sony are paying?
 
No matter what she does, Wie brings attention wherever she goes. TV ratings were up 54 percent when she played in the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour, the tournament's gross receipts were up 40 percent.
 
``Do I think Michelle will get animosity? A little bit,'' Kuehne said. ``But she's proven that she's certainly capable of earning a damn good living on our tour.''
 
LPGA Tour commission Carolyn Bivens met with players last week when Wie announced she was turning pro. They know what's coming, because they have seen it before.
 
The commissioner's plea was to look at the big picture.
 
``Carolyn told us we can all form whatever opinion you want for the moment,'' Meg Mallon said. ``But this girl is going to be good for you.''
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


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Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

“You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

Who’s the best at their best?

In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

And he’s far from done.

“For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”