Wie Off to Good Start at John Deere

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
SILVIS, Ill. --Michelle Wie wants to do more than make history.
 
The 15-year-old shot 1-under 70 at the John Deere Classic on Thursday, keeping her hopes alive of being the first woman in 60 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour. She was on the right side of the line when she finished, but the cut had moved to 2 under at the end of the day.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie had plenty to smile about after her 1-under 70.
``I'm not really thinking about the cut,'' said Wie, who is tied for 73rd. ``I'm only five shots behind (the early leaders), and if I put up three crazy rounds, who knows?''
 
Go ahead and dream big. It wasn't so long ago the mere idea of a woman playing on the PGA Tour was farfetched.
 
Babe Didrikson Zaharias was the last woman to make a cut on the PGA Tour, at the 1945 Tucson Open, and it would be another 58 years before Annika Sorenstam teed it up at the 2003 Colonial. Suzy Whaley played at the Greater Hartford Open later that year; neither women made the cut.
 
Wie has played the Sony Open the last two years, missing the cut by a stroke in 2004. She missed it by seven strokes this year.
 
``It's impressive at 15, that's for sure,'' said Scott Gutschewski, one of Wie's playing partners Thursday. ``I don't know how many 15-year-olds could come out here and do that, let alone a 15-year-old girl.''
 
But the girl can play.
 
This was her second-lowest round in a PGA Tour event, and she beat both her playing partners. She played her last 10 holes at 3 under, had five drives over 290 yards and missed only one putt from inside 10 feet.
 
She also had one of the most impressive shots of the day, getting within 10 feet of the pin from about 260 yards out on the par-5 17th. She missed her eagle putt, but made a 3-footer for birdie to get to 1 under.
 
Oh yeah, and Hunter Mahan shot an 8-under 63 to take the lead and J.L. Lewis is one stroke behind.
 
``She's going to beat a lot of guys today. She'll probably beat a lot of guys tomorrow,'' said Gutschewski, who finished at even par. ``She's going to beat a lot of guys for the rest of her life, I'm sure.''
 
Though Wie is still three months away from her 16th birthday, she's already achieved major-player status. She's been second twice on the LPGA Tour this year, including a runner-up finish at the LPGA Championship, and had a share of the third-round lead at the U.S. Open.
 
She also has that same megastar appeal Tiger Woods had when he was a teenager. A couple hundred people were waiting for her at the first hole, and that number grew to 2,000 by the time she made the turn. By the end of the round, there were 5,000 people on 18.
 
And, no offense to Gutschewski and Nick Watney, but the crowd wasn't there to see them.
 
Just as when Woods plays, fans were on the move as soon as she hit or putted, regardless of what Gutschewski or Watney were doing. Her every shot was cheered, and more than a few people were heard saying, ``And she's only 15!''
 
``On the surface, it was a very well-played round. Then you realize she's a 15-year-old girl, and it's mind-boggling,'' said Watney, who shot 4-over 75. ``She's a phenom. When I was 15, I sure didn't look like that.''
 
Wie might have been showing some of her age early, when she fell to 2 over with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6. She overshot the green with her second shot on No. 5, and the ball smacked into the netting below the bleachers. It landed about 3 inches from the netting, and she had to take a drop because she had no shot. She then two-putted for bogey.
 
On No. 6, she clipped a tree and the ball dropped straight down, landing short of the green. She had an ``iffy'' pitch shot, and two-putted again for bogey from 12 feet.
 
``If I had made those two bogeys in a row (last year), it would have been kind of tough because I was really young,'' Wie said, drawing laughter. ``I'm pretty young now, but I've gotten a lot older and more mature. I have a lot more experience. I know what to expect.''
 
She finally righted herself on No. 9, from the most unlikely of places.
 
Her tee shot sailed right and just over the rope, leaving her without a view of the hole from 210 yards out. But she put her second shot on the green, about 30 feet above the hole, and rolled the putt in.
 
``I haven't played that big slice in a long time,'' she said. ``It has been like at least a year since I played that shot. That was like the pivotal point. I really trusted in myself, and it felt great. It was really good.''
 
Wie made a 12-footer on the 11th hole to get back to even par, doing a combination fist pump and wave to the crowd after the ball dropped in.
 
Her birdie on the 17th easily could have been an eagle.
 
With about 260 yards to the green on her second shot, Wie hit a 3 wood to within 10 feet. There were cheers and whistles from those sitting around the green, and Wie smiled as she walked up the fairway.
 
Her eagle putt broke too far right, leaving her 3 feet from the hole, but she made that for birdie.
 
``I was kind of disappointed on that hole,'' Wie said. ``I felt like I should have made an eagle there, but I was still happy with the birdie.''
 
She wasn't happy with herself on 18, either. After her second shot landed in a trap below the green, Wie waved her club and stamped her right foot. But she still managed to save par, making a 15-footer to close out her round.
 
``The front nine I just was a little bit shaky and made a lot of stupid bogeys,'' Wie said. ``But I'm pretty proud of myself for getting back on track. The back nine was pretty solid, and I feel like I'll see some good scores from now on.''
 
Divots:
Wie's group was put on the clock on the 10th hole. They were taken off on the 13th hole. ... CNBC will televise the end of Wie's second round Friday.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - John Deere Classic
  • Full Coverage - John Deere Classic
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.

    Getty Images

    USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 8:00 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.

    The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.

    How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.

    Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.

    So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.



    After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.

    “When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”

    Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.

    Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.

    The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.

    At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.

    “They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”



    By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.

    “I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”

    That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.

    It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.

    “They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”



    But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.

    The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.

    “To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”

    It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.

    So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.

    “I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”



    But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.

    After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.

    “It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”

    Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.

    Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.

    @bubbawatson on Instagram

    Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

    By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

    Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

    Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

    Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

    A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

    And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

    Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

    Getty Images

    Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

    By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

    There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

    The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

    Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

    If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

    “The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

    The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

    Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).