Moving the Needles

By Brian HewittDecember 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
The Comebackers feedbackers this week are all over Michelle Wies quest for her LPGA card. And not all of that feedback is nice.
Without further ado:

Mike writes:Perhaps if Wie hadn't been so focused on beating the men she could've concentrated on beating the women.
The Comebacker

Doug writes:Please tell me the reason the Golf Channel pays so much attention to this girl. She is not an above average player and she did not perform well in 08, so what is the fascination? I run a golf shop and have gotten sick over the hourly updates on her performance when there are some past winners and up-and-coming players who actually had a fair 08 but just not good enough. The record and performance she has given since playing (as a) pro has not been worth all the attention. She is receiving the type of attention if Annika (Sorenstam)had to go thru Q-(S)chool to play next year and she is not worthy of polishing Annikas shoes.
The Comebacker Doug, with all due respect, you need to get out of the shop once in a while. To say Michelle Wie is not above average is an insult she does not deserve. And shes received plenty of insults the last couple of years.

Tom writes:Well, here we go again, Brian. It seems that the LPGA is ready to fold at any moment, and, somehow, Michelle Wie is the only one who can save it. Michelle Wie suffers from bad judgment and bad management, and the LPGA can do nicely without her. She turned pro too soon, especially if she intended to go to college. She lost more than she gained with that one. Whos guiding her? If its (David) Leadbetter, he should stick to trying to teach her how to play the game. As for Michelle, she needs to decide if its going to be professional golf or Stanford, because those are the only choices she has now. Personally, I would like to see her out on the tour, but only if she is going to be a full-time player. She possesses all of the physical talent to be one of the best to ever play the game, so why isnt she doing that? Last year was such a disaster that I didnt know if she would ever gain enough confidence to compete at the LPGA level again. Anyway, thanks for another amusing column.
The Comebacker Youre welcome. Fact is: Michelle needs the LPGA more than the LPGA needs her (which is not to say the LPGA doesnt need her a lot.) The reason is: she needs a regular schedule. She needs to get a rhythm to her schedule. I agree with Leadbetter when he says all the stopping and starting, particularly with all the commutes to Hawaii, has taken a heavy toll on Wies game.

Jeff writes:What a prima donna. Her parents wont speak to the press? If her game was as good as everybody thought why not skip college? She drops out of tournaments for: sore wrist? Heat exhaustion? Who was the fool from Nike who gave her a $10 million contract with one win: U.S. Publinks? Add up her scores over the past two years. Shes a strong 10 handicap.
The Comebacker Michelle Wie, getting 10 shots from any scratch player you can find, can be my partner in a Saturday best-ball match anywhere you want to tee it up.

Dennis writes:It is without a doubt that the young lady was given too much money and she had little to drive her after that. She has been resting on laurels she has never earned ' potential yes, and desire perhaps, and defeatism from her family emanates from her play. It is obvious that she isnt having fun. When she decides to prove herself it will be without her family smothering her every waking moment on the golf course. I may be wrong. I hope so.
The Comebacker Despite parental love and unquestioned support, her mother and father havent always been the best sounding boards for Wies career decisions.

Gar writes:Im pulling for Michelle to gain an LPGA card and then play on the LPGA Tour. Trying to keep up with the PGA (Tour) players ruined her game.
The Comebacker
I think we found a Michelle Wie fan.

Larry writes:You never give up covering Wie. They say Michael Phelps may earn five million-plus this year and Wie still earns 20 million (hope not). Don't you feel only because the media (you) is so fascinated with this loser that she attracts dollars and Phelps and others who are winners do not receive as much? Everyone I know laughs at what a joke Wie is.
The Comebacker Michelle Wie laughed her way all the way to a 7-under 65 Thursday at LPGA Q-School.

George writes:Too bad the LPGA is at a crossroads because every time they get to one they double bogey. They are losing sponsors, crowds are sparse at best and the yardage they claim the girls hit the ball must be done with smoke and mirrors. Also testing Sorenstam (for drugs) after her last LPGA event was stupid.
The Comebacker
Like, I said, the LPGA needs Michelle Wie, too.

Don writes:Since when is one golfer bigger than the game itself? Arnie, Jack and Lee are not competing anymore, but the game goes on. The LPGA will go on to bigger and better things. There are great players making the ladies game great.
The Comebacker
Wow, a positive e-mail.

M.D. writes:I remember reading an article by Jan Stephenson in which she stated that the 'Asians are killing the LPGA Tour,' or something to that effect. At the time I read it I thought that her statement was a stretch. Now, a few years later, I find myself watching the LPGA less and less often. If (Paula) Creamer, (Morgan) Pressel or someone else I recognize is in contention I'll watch. If, as is common, the leaderboard is full of names I can't pronounce ' I lose interest. So I agree ' the LPGA needs Wie. Can we just lose her parents?
The Comebacker
Double ouch.

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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.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“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.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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.”