Wie Struggles in LPGA Return

By Associated PressMay 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Michelob Ultra Open at KingsmillWILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The booming drives were there, but more often than not, Michelle Wie didnt know where they were going in her first round on the LPGA Tour since February.
 
The best scores, as usual, belonged to just about everyone else'a course record-tying 63 by Scotlands Mhairi McKay, and a potential battle looming between Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam in the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill.
 
Once the most heralded young player in the womens game, Wie managed just one birdie in a zig-zagging 4-over 75 on a soggy day, even as the River Course yielded its fourth 8-under 63 in six years, 64s to Sorenstam and Sun Young Yoo, and 65s to Ochoa and Diana DAlessio.
 
Six others were three off the pace, and there were eight more four behind.
 
While 90 players in the field of 144 shot par or better, Wie was lucky to get off as easily as she did. She pulled her drive on the par-5 seventh, and only a tree kept it from flying out of bounds. She hit into the greenside rough on the par-3 13th, and it kicked onto the green. She hit her drive way right on the wide open par-4 14th, and another tree knocked it down.
 
Still, she took the half-full approach to her first round on tour since the Fields Open in Hawaii, where she made the cut but finished in a tie for last, 20 strokes off the pace.
 
I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well, she said, considering the rust. There were a couple of shots here and there where I felt like if I play a couple more tournaments or had more experience under my belt, it would come out a little differently. But, like I said, Im hitting the ball solid. I just have to work out a couple of other things for tomorrow.
 
Wie could have at least been encouraged by her putting. She had only two reasonable birdie putts all day, making a 5-footer and missing from 15 feet, but several times made par-saving putts from 3-5 feet. Without many birdie chances, that was about as good as it got.
 
I just think its going to come around anytime, Wie insisted. Im not far off.
 
Shell have to get there fast to stick around for the weekend, especially with top-ranked Ochoa and No. 2 Sorenstam off to fast starts in a tournament neither has won.
 
Sorenstam, coming off a playoff victory over Paula Creamer two weeks ago in the Stanford International Pro-Am, had seven birdies in a bogey-free round.
 
I havent shot this low all year, so it feels good to get off to a good start here, a place that I really like a lot and havent played so well, she said.
 
Very solid. Lots of fairways, lots of greens. Just good golf.
 
Sorenstam played with Ochoa and defending champion Suzann Pettersen (71) and was 4 under through eight holes, the kind of start that she hopes will lead to big things.
 
I think my game fits this course, she said of the 6,315-yard layout, where her best finish is sixth. Why I havent played well here in the past, Im not really sure.
 
Ochoa, a three-time runner-up here, had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys in her first event since her winning streak was halted at four last weekend. She moved into a tie for third with DAlessio with three consecutive birdies on the back nine, just before a par-par finish.
 
Early morning rain and intermittent drizzle made scoring necessary, she said.
 
You got to take advantage of that, she said.
 
Playing with Sorenstam only highlighted the need to attack flags, she said.
 
It keeps you motivated to play good and make birdies, she said.
 
McKay avoided trouble all day in a bogey-free 63, and even turned her only errant tee shot of the day into a birdie. It came at the par-4 14th, where her drive came to rest under a tree, but she hit a punch 6-iron that skidded up onto the green, 20 feet from the cup.
 
She made that putt, and several others, thanks to a tip from her brother, who caddied for her last weekend at the Scottish Open and thought she was standing up too soon on putts.
 
Definitely helped me, she said.
 
Yoo played in the afternoon, and closed with four consecutive birdies.
 
I didnt realize I could be like this, so I really feel good, she said.
 
DAlessio played with Wie, and came up with the shot of the day'a 7-iron from 134 yards out on the par-4 16th that landed about 5 feet short of the hole, hopped and rolled in.
 
My caddie yelled, `Go in and it did, she said. She needs to do that more often.
 
Besides the eagle, she had five birdies and two bogeys.
 
While she was celebrating the shot, Wie was walking toward the green, where she followed a pulled drive with a shot that went far right into greenside rough. From there, she chipped across the green onto the fringe, pounding her wedge in frustration, and then two-putted.
 
The 18-year-old got high marks for composure from her playing partner.
 
She kept herself very composed, which was good to see, DAlessio said.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”