Wies Father to Caddy at US Open
B.J. Wie hasn't caddied for his 14-year-old daughter all year, and the timing is peculiar.
Team Wie endured a bizarre confrontation last year at the Women's Open while playing with Danielle Ammaccapane, who accused them of poor etiquette and berated the teenager in the scoring tent.
B.J. Wie accused Ammaccapane of purposely bumping his daughter on the green, then retracted his allegations the next day and said Ammaccapane's father threatened him.
By the final round, he turned the bag-toting duties over to swing coach Gary Gilchrist, and said, 'I fired myself. I've caused too much trouble.'
So why return this week as a caddie?
'We were going to get another caddie, but then I have to get used to him and I didn't want to waste the time to get used to the caddie while I have to get used to the course,' Michelle Wie said. 'There's no one that knows me better than my dad, so I just have him on the bag.'
But she made it clear who calls the shots on the golf course.
Wie said she laid up on the 527-yard ninth hole during a practice round Tuesday, although she might try to reach the green in two later in the week. Asked whether her father suggested she play short, Wie laughed and said, 'Not really. I don't really listen to my dad on the golf course.'
B.J. Wie was hopeful of getting Mike 'Fluff' Cowan, who caddied for his daughter at the Michelob Ultra. But those plans ended when Cowan's regular loop -- Jim Furyk -- returned from wrist surgery and played in the U.S. Open.
Dottie Pepper, battling through a series of injuries the last couple of years, received a special exemption to play in the U.S. Women's Open.
But she didn't even make it to the first tee.
Pepper withdrew Monday night because of a pinched nerve in the back of her head that extended over her eye and down to her shoulders. She was at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on Tuesday for a spinal tap, and planned to come to Orchards Golf Club to do television work for ESPN and NBC.
'I'm extremely disappointed,' Pepper said. 'I'm kind of at my wit's end.'
Pepper was replaced by Jennifer Greggain, who last played in the Women's Open at Pine Needles in 2001 when she was five months pregnant.
QUITE A CHANGE
Playing in the Booz Allen Classic was like getting a whiff of smelling salts for some players knocked out by the overcooked conditions at Shinnecock Hills.
Billy Mayfair followed an 89 in the final round of the U.S. Open with a 66 in the first round of the Booz Allen. Charles Howell III went from an 83 to a 61.
'The ones that played in the U.S. Open will feel more relaxed,' Fred Funk said. 'If they played last week, they are going to come here and they're actually going to see green grass. That in itself is nice.'
The biggest difference was on the scoreboard, where Adam Scott finished at 21-under 263.
Craig Stadler still calls all the shots in the family.
Stadler celebrated a milestone in his career when he won a Champions Tour event the same day his son, Kevin, got his first Nationwide Tour title.
By the time the elder Stadler arrived for his news conference, reporters were talking to his son on a conference call. The Stadlers were asked how they were going to celebrate, and who would pick up the tab.
Craig earned $232,500 for his fifth Champions Tour victory, and Kevin collected $81,000.
'You're buying dinner. I'll buy the beers,' Stadler told his son. 'And you're driving.'
The victories came four weeks after the elder Stadler pleaded guilty in Michigan to operating a vehicle while impaired.
THE STREAK GOES ON
Assuming Dana Quigley doesn't break his arm - and even that might not stop him - he will make his 250th consecutive start next week at the Senior Players Championship in Michigan.
There have been a few close calls. Quigley hurt his elbow before the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in Tampa, Fla., but played through the pain and let it heal when the Champions Tour took the next week off.
Quigley was asked if his streak was comparable to that of Cal Ripken.
'I'm happy with what I've accomplished, but Cal Ripken went over 2,100 games without a rest,' Quigley said. 'The desire to play has never diminished, but what Ripken did is far superior. I just go out and play golf every day.'
The hype over Michelle Wie might best be illustrated by nominations for the ESPY Awards. The 14-year-old Hawaiian, whose only victory is the 2003 Women's Amateur Public Links, is on the ballot for Best Female Golfer along with Annika Sorenstam and Grace Park, who won the first two majors of the year.
Sorenstam also was nominated for Best Female Athlete (along with Diana Taurasi and Justine Henin-Hardenne).
Wie's other nomination was in the Best Breakthrough category, where the competition includes LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and 15-year-old soccer sensation Freddy Adu.
Fans have control over the awards for the first time. Online voting takes place July 9, and the winners will be announced July 18.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has become a partner with The First Tee program. Starting this fall in New York, and later in Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago, the RBS Mentor Program will link children with a mentor in their community and give them a chance to compete for $10,000 toward a college education. ... Aaron Barber, the forgotten man in the Annika Sorenstam group at Colonial, tied for ninth at the Booz Allen for his first top-10 on tour in 33 starts. ... Tim Herron has quietly risen to No. 13 in the Ryder Cup standings, with top-four finishes in three of his last six tournaments.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Bill Haas earned $23,280 when he tied for 33rd in his professional debut at the Booz Allen Classic. His father, Jay, earned $32,326 in 30 tournaments as a rookie in 1977.
'That was the first time I cried on the golf course, except for the time I was 10 at the Public Links and I was losing. I was crying during the round.' - Michelle Wie, who broke into tears after losing in the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause
AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.
The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.
“I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”
Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.
As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.
“I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”
Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid
AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.
Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.
“I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”
Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.
“[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”
Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.
“He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”
This week, let the games(manship) begin
AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.
What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.
During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.
“Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”
Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.
“There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].
Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.
Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.
“Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”
Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.
“I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”
While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.
But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.
“It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”
It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”
McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”
It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.
“Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.
Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.
Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana
While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.
The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.
"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."
Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.
According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."
"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."
Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.
Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.
"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."
Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.