Women on Tour Becoming a Trend
The 2004 season might get under way with 14-year-old Michelle Wie at the Sony Open.
B.J. Wie, her father, said tournament sponsors are deciding this week whether to offer the teenage prodigy a sponsor's exemption at Waialaie Country Club in Honolulu, her hometown. She tried to Monday qualify last year, shot 73 and missed by seven strokes.
'She's got a good possibility, but not a final word yet,' the father said.
Is this a sign of more gender blending in golf? PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't think so.
'I don't see a trend involved here where a lot of tournaments are going to want women golfers to play,' Finchem said. 'I frankly don't think there are many that add much to a tournament at this point in time.'
In other words, the novelty might be wearing off.
Sorenstam sought a personal challenge and turned in a captivating performance at the Colonial, although she missed the cut by four shots. She has said repeatedly she won't play another PGA Tour event.
Suzy Whaley was the only woman to qualify, winning a PGA club pro sectional from a shorter set of tees to earn a spot in the Greater Hartford Open.
They were followed by Wie (Canadian and Nationwide tours), Laura Davies (Asian PGA Tour), Jan Stephenson (Champions Tour) and Se Ri Pak (Korean PGA Tour).
Finchem says Wie still grabs attention because of her youth and power.
'The question on everyone's mind is how far can this young gal go?' he said.
Still, he said most PGA Tour events are looking for players who have a future on the PGA Tour or past champions hoping to regain their form.
'I don't see a big shift in the usage because of what happened,' he said.
Meantime, B.J. Wie said in the event his daughter doesn't get an exemption to the Sony Open, she might try to Monday qualify again.
'It's a $400 entry fee,' he said. 'But that's still cheaper than flying to the mainland.'
The PGA Tour's other two awards might not be that difficult to figure out.
Ben Curtis is a lock for rookie of the year.
A year ago, Jonathan Byrd won the award because he was the only rookie to win a tournament. The 26-year-old Curtis happened to win a major - the first one he played, no less.
As for comeback player of the year?
Fred Couples would seem to be the logical choice. He overcame back problems to win the Houston Open, his first victory in five years, and he finished 34th on the money list.
Also making a strong case is Tommy Armour III, who started the year on conditional status and won the Texas Open by setting the 72-hole scoring record at 26-under 254.
The Skins Game won't be using a back tee on the 415-yard 14th hole at Trilogy Golf Club, and ESPN general manager Chuck Gerber offered one good reason: Annika Sorenstam.
The 33-year-old Swede will be the first woman to compete in the Thanksgiving weekend exhibition. The course, used for the first time in this event, will be about 7,100 yards and is a par 72.
'We're not using it because I wanted to limit the number of times that Annika had a fairway wood in her hands to make the second shot,' Gerber said in a conference call last week. 'I think that's necessarily fair.'
Sorenstam played Colonial at 7,080. In her opening round of 1-over 71, she hit 4-iron twice and a 7-wood into three of the par 4s. She also hit a 4-wood on a par 3.
'When you put Annika on a golf course that is 7,100 yards, she's at a disadvantage of having to play a long iron or a fairway wood into every par 4,' Gerber said. 'I think it's asking too much of any golfer to take a fairway wood and put it within 8 or 10 feet of the hole every time.'
Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara will be hitting from the same tees.
Until this year, John Daly was the only player to average over 300 yards per drive on the PGA Tour. Not only did Hank Kuehne end Daly's eight-year reign as the leader in driving distance, he had plenty of company in the '300 club.'
Kuehne finished at 321.4 yards and was one of nine players to average over 300 yards a drive.
Fred Funk won the driving accuracy category for the fourth time in five years, although his average (77.9 percent of fairways hit) was his lowest during that stretch. Joe Durant hit the most greens in regulation at 72.9 percent.
The putting leader was John Huston at 1.713, narrowly beating out Justin Leonard.
Leonard was No. 1 last week, but he slipped just enough after having to spend four days on the county-sized putting surfaces at Champions Golf Club at the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods won the all-around ranking, a combination of every category.
Arnold Palmer made it official: The King introduced Kit Gawthrop as his fiancee during a press conference last week to announce MasterCard as the presenting sponsor of the Bay Hill Invitational. They did not mention a wedding date. ... Tiger Woods finished 17 shots behind Chad Campbell at the Tour Championship, the most he has trailed a winner since he was 17 shots behind Fred Couples in the 1998 Memorial. ... David Duval finally slipped out of the top 200 in the world ranking. At No. 204, he is only two spots ahead of Nationwide Tour player of the year Zach Johnson. ... Fredrik Jacobson, who has taken over as the top Swede in golf, signed a management deal with IMG. ... Nick Faldo withdrew from the Franklin Templeton Shootout this week because of a back injury. He was replaced by Matt Kuchar, whose partner will be Fred Funk. ... Des Smyth and Vicente Fernandez fill out the Rest of the World team in the UBS Cup next weekend at Sea Island.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Tour Championship has been played 17 years without a repeat winner, the longest any event on the PGA Tour schedule has gone before someone won it twice.
'It worked for Hogan. It's definitely working for me.' - Vijay Singh, on the long hours he spends hitting balls.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”