Wie hopes return to Hawaii will help her game

By Associated PressApril 17, 2013, 1:27 am

KAPOLEI, Hawaii – Michelle Wie is hoping a Hawaii stop on the LPGA Tour will inject a little aloha into her game.

She's 91st in the world ranking after breaking 70 only once in 18 rounds so far this season. She's coming off a season-best tie for 41st two weeks ago in the Kraft Nabisco Championship – after starting the tournament with an apology from Annika Sorenstam for being quoted as saying the former child prodigy hasn't shown the talent that initially made her a star.

And ahead of a press conference to open the LPGA Lotte Championship, organizers planned to bring five players – including the world's top three – to introduce the tournament to reporters. But not Wie.

Still, the 23-year-old Stanford graduate says it's nice to be home, where she's more relaxed.

''There's nothing like coming back home,'' Wie told The Associated Press on Tuesday after finishing a pro-am round with four amateurs at 7 under in a scramble format.


Video: What to watch for at the LPGA Lotte Championship


Wie grew up in Honolulu, just a few miles east of the Ko Olina Golf Club, where the LPGA Lotte Championship is in its second year.

''As soon as you get off the plane, that smell – everything,'' she said. ''It's great to play in front of a home crowd and hopefully a lot of people will come out tomorrow.''

A friendly, familiar crowd couldn't hurt Wie, who won the last of her two LPGA Tour titles in 2010 and has gotten a lot of attention lately for her new putting style – an unorthodox stance where she bends at the waist, her back straight and nearly parallel to the ground with her eyes peering straight over the ball.

''Yeah, I enjoy being here and I'm very happy,'' Wie said when asked if being home could help turn things around. ''I'm just going to go out and have fun tomorrow.''

Wie had an up-and-down practice round Tuesday, taking extra time between shots to work on her technique and chat with her parents, who walked the course and occasionally chimed in with tips.

After her group finished each hole, Wie's caddie frequently tossed out a ball for Wie to chip, putt, or hit from a bunker.

On the 365-yard, par-4 second, Wie asked her group if she could hit a second drive after her real tee shot landed in the left side rough, very close to a bunker.

Two of the next three holes, she groaned after hitting her drives. ''Ugh, Michelle,'' she said after sending a shot off to the right on the 528-yard, par-5 fifth, before lightly smacking her tee into the face of her driver as she walked down the course.

Still, in the best ball format, Wie's group played her shots most often. She hit within 8 feet on the 154-yard, par-3 fourth and was on point with most of her approaches and putts.

''I had fun out there today and it felt good,'' she said.

The LPGA Lotte Championship comes as Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Yani Tseng battle for the top spot in the world rankings. Park, the Kraft Nabisco winner, took over the top spot Monday, ending Lewis' four-week run at No. 1.

New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko is coming off a tie for 25th in the Kraft Nabisco. She won the Canadian Open in August to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days. The South Korea-born Ko has two other pro victories, the New South Wales Open last year and New Zealand Women's Open this year, and won the U.S. Women's Amateur last season. She's ranked 22nd in the world.

Ai Miyazato won the tournament last year. This year's event has a top prize of $225,000 and a total purse of $1.7 million.

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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."