Wie Off to Wonderful Start

By Associated PressFebruary 3, 2004, 5:00 pm
WAILEA, Hawaii -- She met Tiger Woods and played nine holes with Jack Nicklaus. In between, Michelle Wie came within one shot of making the cut on the PGA Tour.
One month into 2004, the 14-year-old from Honolulu already has had a dream year.
And she is just getting warmed up.
Wie, a ninth-grader at Punahou School, turned so many heads with her 68 at the Sony Open that her father said she has received seven more offers to play on the PGA Tour.
'Michelle's still thinking about it and what to do with it,' B.J. Wie said.
Her schedule already includes several events competing against women, and her parents promise this summer won't be as hectic as 2003.
'Last year, we made a mistake, because she played three consecutive tournaments and she got so tired,' B.J. Wie said. 'She's still young. She gets tired easily.'
This year's itinerary is more spread out.
Wie is playing this week in the Hawaii Pearl Open, one of the premier men's golf events in the state. Last year, she shot a 5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 43rd as the youngest player and only female among 192 players, half of them from Japan.
After that, Wie travels to Phoenix for the Safeway International, one of the strongest fields on the LPGA Tour, followed by the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the year.
A year ago, Wie played in the final group at the Nabisco and tied for ninth.
She also plans to play in the Michelob Ultra Open, Evian Masters in France and Wendy's Championship on the LPGA Tour. Wie's amateur schedule includes her defense of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women's Amateur.
'I am going to have a lot of vacation this summer, not like last year when it was continuous,' she said. 'When I go to France, I'm going to have a week in Paris.
'So it's not going to be just all golf because I don't think I'll be able to handle that.'
Wie also is hopeful of making the U.S. Curtis Cup team, and she will try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
B.J. Wie said his daughter won't be able to play on her high school golf team at the private Punahou School because her LPGA schedule will force her to miss most of the high school events.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem does not see a problem if Wie accepts another exemption, as long as she shows she can play.
'If a tournament gives sponsor exemptions to a player or an individual who is clearly not competitive, just for publicity purposes, that's something we wouldn't care to see,' Finchem said.
'Michelle Wie played quite well and, at 14, if she continues to develop, I'm not sure you can make the case that she's not competitive when she misses the cut by a shot,' he said.
Last year, Wie played seven times on the LPGA Tour, missing the cut just once. She missed the cut on the men's Canadian and Nationwide tours, and her only victory in any event came at the Women's Public Links, where she became the youngest winner of a USGA event for adults.
This season, she said playing against the PGA Tour's best in the Sony has helped her game and raised her expectations.
'It gave me a lot of confidence that I can play with these guys,' she said. 'I think it's going to help on the LPGA because some of the (men's) par 4s are a little shorter than the (women's) par 5s.
'I just want to win one LPGA tournament and the USGA tournaments,' she said. 'I want to win more tournaments because last year my goal was to make the cut, this year I want to move ahead.'
She already has one believer in Nicklaus.
'She's terrific,' Nicklaus said of Wie, his playing partner in the pro-am for last weekend's Champions Skins competition in Maui. 'She's going to be something else.
'She doesn't swing a golf club like a woman. What I mean by that is women have a hard time with less strength and transition to put really something on it.
'She's strong and absolutely rips it. She has great control and command of the golf club and that's what it takes, plus already at 14, she has a wonderful wedge game and putts well.'
Nicklaus said he hopes Wie finishes her education and does the things she needs to do to be 'normal.'
'If she's a normal human being, then she's got the chance to be an exceptional athlete,' he said. 'If it goes the other way, then you don't know what's going to happen to her. But I think her parents have her feet on the ground, and I think she has her feet on the ground.'
Wie's classmates have realized her star power.
'They're just begging me not to change my autograph because they say when they're 45 and needing a job they're going to sell my stuff on eBay,' Wie said.
B.J. Wie tried to dispell the perception that he is an overbearing parent.
'Because she's highly visible on TV, it looks like she plays golf everyday, but it's not true,' he said 'Some people believe Michelle doesn't do anything outside golf and that's not true. She does all kinds of things.
'She makes her own decisions - where to play and what tournament she wants to go,' he said. 'I present her a list of tournaments and we schedule together.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.