Wie Not Afraid of Failure Not Worried About Critics
It was a family vacation to Beijing, although she doesn't remember the year.
``I think I was 10 or 11,'' Wie said. ``It was right after I failed to qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur.''
Excitement soon turned to fatigue, and when she stopped to rest, the girl who gets nervous in a three-story hotel made the mistake of looking down.
``You know how it has those towers?'' Wie said. ``Well, we reached the first tower, and I got tired and sat down. I turned around and it's like super high. I am so scared of heights, and I couldn't breathe.''
That's as far as she went. Ultimately, the short climb proved to be a longterm lesson, for it was one of the few times the 15-year-old golfer from Hawaii ever gave up.
``If I get afraid of failure,'' she says now, ``then I can't go any higher.''
It's hard to gauge how many towers Wie has reached in golf, although she is still climbing -- and she won't look back.
One was the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links that Wie won at age 13. Another was the 68 she shot at the Sony Open last year at 14, the lowest score ever by a female competing on the PGA Tour. She finished fourth at an LPGA major ('04 Kraft Nabisco) and tied for second on the LPGA Tour in January.
Then again, maybe that Public Links title is the only tower.
Some see her high finishes against women twice her age as achievement; others believe there is no greater experience than a room full of trophies. The only certainty is that her career path is unlike any other, which is why it gets so much scrutiny.
Wie just finished her sophomore year at Punahou School. Her summer plans include a long list of tournaments, but only two against amateurs, and only one of those against the men at the U.S. Amateur Public Links.
First up is the LPGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Bulle Rock north of Baltimore. It will be her first serious competition since she failed to get through men's U.S. Open local qualifying a month ago.
Critics say she needs to learn how to win by playing kids her own age, preferably the same gender.
Look what it did for 18-year-old Paula Creamer, they say. She spent her youth at a Florida golf academy, played sparingly against the pros while winning regularly on the junior circuit, then captured her first LPGA Tour event just five days before her high school graduation.
Then again, Michelle Wie is not Paula Creamer.
She's not Tiger Woods, either.
In many ways, her peculiar path was dictated by circumstances, some of which involve living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far removed from junior tours and strong competition.
By the time she was old enough to play in the American Junior Golf Association, she had already qualified for two LPGA Tour events at age 12, a feat so impressive that another LPGA event gave her an exemption.
``Traveling to an AJGA event costs the same as traveling to a LPGA event,'' Wie wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press the week of the Masters. ``If Bentley and Toyota cost the same, wouldn't you get the Bentley? I got the Bentley, and I do not regret my decision.''
Her only hope is that others will stop the back-seat driving.
``There's a lot of different ways to do stuff,'' Wie said in a telephone interview over the weekend as she took a break from practicing at Bulle Rock. ``The road can go left or it can go right. How do ever know which way to go? It obviously worked for her (Creamer). I couldn't play AJGA events because I was too young, so I did an LPGA qualifier. And once I started, I couldn't let go.''
As an 11-year-old child in the sixth grade, Wie played in Hawaii's premier event for female amateurs and won the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational by nine shots. A year later, she qualified to compete against Annika Sorenstam and Grace Park in the Takefugi Classic, missing the cut by three shots.
Bentley or Toyota?
Wie gets a rare shot to play all four LPGA majors this year.
There's also another stop on the PGA Tour at the John Deere Classic the first week in July, which is sure to do two things -- outrage someone for taking a spot in the field, and sell tickets.
Wie's idea is to gain experience for whenever she decides to turn pro.
``A lot of people have different opinions since I'm not going the traditional way,'' Wie said. ``But that's the way I've chosen to go. And I can't go back. It's not like I can wake up tomorrow morning and be 8 years old again.''
She also is perplexed to hear talk that her parents are the ones driving the car.
``It makes no sense to me, like I'm a slave and being forced to play,'' Wie said, her voice dripping with 10th-grade sarcasm. ``If my parents were forcing me to play golf, I'd be a pro at 10.''
A prodigious driver of the golf ball, Wie recently got her driver's permit and now is taking on the crowded H-1 freeway through Honolulu. She turns 16 in October, and like any teen, she can't wait to have her own car.
Bentley or Toyota?
``You're always hoping for the Bentley,'' she said with a laugh. ``But I just want a car.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”