Wie Struggles Mightily at John Deere

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- After yet another errant shot, Michelle Wie groaned and tugged her baseball hat down over her eyes.
 
Nice try. There was no escaping the ugliness on her scorecard, though.
 
Trying for a fifth time to become the first woman since 1945 to make a cut in a PGA TOUR event, the 16-year-old instead found trouble virtually everywhere she turned Thursday in the first round of the John Deere Classic. In the sand. In the water. In the weeds. And in the woods -- several times.
 
'It was very uncharacteristic,' she said. 'Considering that I had the water hazard penalties, considering that I had to call unplayable, considering that I hit my driver like 50 yards right, I felt like I played really well.
 
'... I have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.'
 
With a 6-over 77, Wie was 13 strokes off the lead and appears headed for another early trip home. The low 70 and ties will make the cut after the second round Friday and 70 players were at 2 under or better, with three still on the course when play was suspended because of darkness. Wie was tied for 149th in the 153-player field, with only Bob May and Mike Springer behind her.
 
'I didn't make the cut shooting 1 under on the first (day), so maybe shooting 6 over might do it,' said Wie, who missed the cut at last year's Deere Classic despite shooting 1 under the first day.
 
J.P. Hayes, John Senden, Daniel Chopra and local favorite Zach Johnson were tied for the lead at 7-under 64. Joe Ogilvie and Kris Cox were one stroke back at 65. Six players, including one of Wie's playing partners, Daisuke Maruyama, were at 66.
 
Jeff Gove, the third player in Wie's group, was at 3-over 74. Defending champion Sean O'Hair was five shots off the lead after a 69.
 
This is Wie's fifth visit to the PGA TOUR, where she is trying to become the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make the cut. And if ever there was a time the teen phenom was going to do it, this appeared to be it.
 
She missed the cut at last year's Deere Classic by two strokes, blowing her chance at history with two bad holes late in the second round. A year older and wiser, she arrived playing the best golf of he career. In the first three LPGA Tour majors, she's finished a combined five shots out of the lead.
 
She'd already made the cut at one men's event, too, finishing 12 shots off the lead in the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open.
 
But Wie got off to a rough start Thursday and never quite got back on track. She hit seven of 14 fairways and made six of 18 greens, only one in the first nine. She took four drops, three in the first five holes.
 
'When I was like, 12, maybe,' Wie said when asked the last time she took four penalty strokes.
 
Heavy fog delayed the start of the first round by 2 hours and 10 minutes, and about 2,000 fans were lining the 10th hole -- her first -- by the time Wie and her partners arrived. She was greeted with loud applause, and she responded with an easy smile and wave.
 
She wasn't smiling on the 11th tee, when bugs hovered as she addressed her ball. She stepped back five times, throwing her head back in frustration the final time.
 
'I would like to say it didn't, but it bothered me a little bit,' she said. 'Bugs on me, I hate bugs, and I was starting to get a little aggravated like the fifth time I stepped out. I was a little aggravated, but I felt like I shook it off.'
 
Maybe. But she pushed her tee shot so far right it was lost in a thicket of trees and she had to take a drop. She wound up with a double-bogey after her 20-foot uphill putt stopped at the edge of the cup.
 
Next up was the par-3 12th, another easy birdie hole. But once again, her tee shot sailed to the right, prompting Wie to yell, 'Oh, no! You've got to be kidding me!'
 
Nope. That ball disappeared into trees, too, forcing her to take another drop from about 90 yards out. But she saved a bogey, running that shot 4 feet past the hole and making the putt.
 
She rebounded with a 12-footer for birdie on 13, and smiled when 16-year-old Spencer Conlin yelled, 'Michelle, you're my hero!' as she walked off the green.
 
'Dude, look at her,' Conlin said. 'She's out here playing with men in a PGA tournament. And she's half the age of them.'
 
But her recovery was short-lived. Another bad drive on 14 landed in deep weeds, and she had to take another drop, her third.
 
Wie finally got a break on the par-3 16th, chipping in from a valley about 20 yards behind and to the right of the pin. The crowd whooped and cheered, and a relieved-looking Wie exchanged a fist bump with her caddie.
 
'That's why I play, to have those moments,' Wie said. 'It's so wonderful, you can't really put it in words. You just feel really good. That's why I'm doing this, to feel those moments.'
 
Those moments were short-lived Thursday, though. Her tee shot on the par-5 17th hit one tree and then another, landing in deep rough about 10 yards into the gallery. She tried to punch out, but the ball only moved about 40 yards. When she finally did get on the green, she left a 15-foot par putt short.
 
After a bogey on No. 1 and another drop on No. 2, Wie had a chance to make up ground. One birdie putt hit the edge of the cup and banged out. Another rolled 3 feet by, and she left yet another 4 feet short.
 
'I feel like I have a really good round in me,' she said. 'I feel like if I hit the fairways more, if I was in the fairway I could have a shot a lot under par. I felt like my irons are really good. My putting feels really good and I really feel like I can do it.'
 
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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).


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    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."

    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.)

    But the also comment fits 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'll be fatigue, maybe it'll be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is  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.”