No 9 Million Reasons for Wie to Smile

By George WhiteDecember 16, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #9Editor's note: TheGolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 stories from the 2005 golf season. This is Story No. 9.
 
The year began with her missing a cut, this one by six shots, and ended with her missing another cut by one. Along the way she was disqualified in her first-ever appearance as a professional.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will face the ladies -- and men -- as a professional in 2006.
But oh, the tournaments in between 12 events in all, four mens events, second or tied for second in three tournaments, tie for third in another. All this from a young woman who was only 15 years old most of the year. Michelle Wie didnt turn 16 until Oct. 11.

On Oct. 5th, though, the young lady from Honolulu turned professional. It ended a guessing game for the media, for interested golf spectators, and numerous corporations who dreamed of having her endorse their product. Michelle Wie decided it was time to play for pay, and now the young woman is headed for destinations unknown.
 
Is it the LPGA? Is it the PGA Tour? Is it somewhere else, perhaps a combination of the PGA Tour, LPGA, European and Asian tours? Or, will Wie flame out with a spectacular flare, plummeting to earth with a deafening thud?
 
Yes, it was an unforgettable year for the Panahou High School student. Shes now the wealthiest 11th-grader in Hawaii. Endorsers showered her with an estimated $9 million ' the largesse heaped on her by Nike clubs and golf balls and electronics giant Sony. Her take for her first year of play is expected to be approximately $11 million, with appearance fees and additional corporate endorsers adding to whatever she earns from tournament purses.
 
'I'm finally happy to say I'm a pro starting today,' Wie said. 'The first time I grabbed a golf club, I knew I'd do it for the rest of my life. Some 12 years later, I'm finally turning pro, and I'm so excited.'
 
Wie, who is represented by the William Morris Agency, immediately pledged $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Relief Fund, set up by the major golf organizations, to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.
 
It has been an outstanding year for Michelle professionally as well as in her personal life. She continues to excel in the classroom at Punahou. And she has made the cut in her last 16 LPGA events dating to 2003, and would have earned about $640,870 on the LPGA had she not been an amateur. That would put her 13th on the money list in only seven starts.
 
And, shes getting closer and closer to success on the mens tours. She reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. And in her last two professional mens outings, she had the cut made until deep in the second round when a series of late miscues doomed her.
 
The year had begun for Wie on something of a downer' she didnt play particularly well, by pro standards, in the Sony Open near her home in Hawaii. She shot 75 the first day, 74 the second, and missed the cut in the PGA Tour event by six shots.
 
Michelle came close to a win at the first LPGA tournament, the SBS Open in Hawaii. There she shot three consecutive 70s to finish in a tie for second place, two shots behind winner Jennifer Rosales.
 
Her next two tries, a tie for 12th at the Safeway International and a tie for 14th at the Kraft Nabisco, were nothing of note. But at the McDonalds LPGA Championship ' an LPGA major - she again played brilliantly, finishing in second by herself this time, three strokes behind winner Annika Sorenstam.
 
Like any person who has achieved a great deal of fame, though, Michelle is well aware that many people are anti-Wie. I'm not the kind of person who will back down because people don't want me here and stuff like that, she said at McDonalds. I'm having fun. I'm not really sure that I get a lot of extra attention, but if I do, that's great. If I don't, that's OK. I'm just really having fun out there.

Wie took a turn again at challenging the gents when she teed it up in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. If she could win it ' which seemed only a remote chance ' she would achieve her lifelong dream of playing in the Masters. And she came much closer than anybody had dared dream, winning three matches before finally losing in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Clay Ogden.
 
Michelles highest finish ever in a professional tournament came at the 2005 McDonalds. And it looked as if she might go all the way to the top when she found herself tied for the lead after three rounds at the U.S. Womens Open. How could someone just 15 years of age be doing so well in a U.S. Open?
 
Michelle Wie
Wie's first event as a pro created quite a controversy.
When I am out there on the golf course, said Wie, I completely forget my age. I don't think anyone really remembers their age, you know - everyone that I know wants to be older than their age right now. So out on the golf course I am a golfer, trying my best.
 
Alas, Sunday was a day of reckoning. Michelle shot an 82, but after the day was finally over, she could still enjoy a little humor.
 
I haven't played this bad in a long time, she said, so I definitely learned a lot of things from today. One of the things I definitely have to get is a GPS for my ball, because it was lost out there today. I mean, put a magnet in the ball or something, because that thing was not going towards the hole.
 
Then came the PGA Tour again, when she was offered a sponsors exemption by the John Deere Classic in July. She put in a solid effort Thursday with a 1-under 70, and was sailing inside the cut line by one when disaster struck her on the 15th hole ' No. 6 ' Friday.
 
It began when she pulled her tee shot into a bunker and then she compounded that error with a three-putt for a double bogey. And, at the next hole ' her 16th ' she also made bogey. Michelle finished with a 71, missing the cut by two shots.

'It was pretty killer,' she said. 'Even though I finished below par, it still feels (bad) because I played so well the first nine and then I just totally messed up the back nine.'
 
At the LPGAs Evian Masters, played in France, she rebounded beautifully to finish again in second place. She was not pleased, however, because she was still eight shots behind the winner, Paula Creamer.
 
I just left so many shots out there, said Wie. I couldn't count how many putts I missed. It's pretty frustrating, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the way I hit it. I came back yesterday and today and I felt like I improved over those so, it went pretty well.
 
She was still going strong when the next tournament rolled around the following week ' this time another major, the Weetabix Womens British Open. An opening round of 75 in windy, cold and rainy weather put her far behind, but her three final rounds of 67-67-69 meant she would tie for third.
 
We didnt hear from Michelle for several months while she returned to high school in Hawaii. When she surfaced again, she had turned professional. And then, in her first event as a pro, she learned a very painful ' if very valuable ' lesson. Wie learned all about disqualifications.
 
It was at the LPGAs Samsung World Championship, and Michelle got around for four days with a 70-65-71-74 score, which WOULD have been good for fourth place. WOULD have been, if it werent for an incorrect drop she was ruled to have taken Saturday.
 
Officials said that she dropped closer to the hole on No. 15 at Bighorn Golf Club near Palm Springs, Calif. Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated magazine observed the drop and on Sunday questioned an official about it. The official reviewed what he could determine were the facts, then reluctantly disqualified Wie.
 
Wie was stunned, but said she had learned a valuable lesson. From now on, she said, Im going to call a rules official, no matter what it is. Three inches or 100 yards is the same thing. I respect that.
 
The year ended with Michelle taking advantage of a sponsors invitation to another mens event, the Casio World Open in Japan. And again it was a heartbreaking missed cut, Wie missing by just one shot when she made bogey on her final two holes.
 
The future may resemble a skyscraper, growing by leaps and bounds to insurmountable heights. Or, it may resemble a meteor, flaming out after a few impressive performances. But one thing is for certain - 2005 was a skyscraper year.
 
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Michelle Wie's Bio
  • Sony Open Coverage
  • U.S. Women's Open Coverage
  • John Deere Classic Coverage
  • Wie Disqualified in Pro Debut
  • Getty Images

    No indication when Trump Turnberry will next host an Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2018, 12:25 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009, during that magical week where Tom Watson, at age 59, nearly won his sixth claret jug. Ultimately, Stewart Cink won in a playoff.

    While Turnberry remains on The Open rota, according to the R&A, there is no clear understanding of when the club, purchased by Donald Trump in 2014 before he became President of the United States, will next host the championship. The next open date is 2022

    “With respect to 2022, I’ve already said, ’21 we’re going to be celebrating the 150th playing of The Open at St. Andrews,” R&A chief executive Marin Slumbers said Wednesday on the annual news conference on the eve of The Open. “And in ’22, we’ll be going south of the border.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    South of the border means the 2022 Open will be at one of the three venues in England. Since the 2020 Open is at Royal St. George’s, that leaves Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool as the two remaining options. Since Lytham (2012, Ernie Els) last hosted the Open before Liverpool (2014, Rory McIlroy), that’s the likely choice.

    Trump was at Turnberry for two days last weekend, 150 miles southwest of Carnoustie. The R&A said it did not receive any communication from the U.S. president while he was in the country.

    Turnberry hosted the Women’s British Open in 2015. Inbee Park beat Jin-young Park by three shots.

    Getty Images

    Slumbers explains driver test; Rory weighs in

    By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:18 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Players and manufacturers were informed about three weeks ago that the R&A intended to test individual drivers at this week’s Open Championship, marking the first time the rule makers have taken the current standards to players.

    Although the R&A and USGA have been COR (coefficient of restitution) tests on drivers for some time, they have been pulling the tested clubs from manufacturers, not players.

    “We take our governance role very seriously, not just on the Rules of Golf and amateur status, but also equipment standards, and we felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players' drivers straight out of the bag,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive.

    Thirty players were notified their drivers would be tested this week - including Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson - from a list that roughly mirrored the breakdown of various brands based on current equipment counts.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    The R&A test center was set up on the Carnoustie practice range, and according to Slumbers there were no violations of the testing limits, which essentially measure the spring-like effect of the driver clubface.

    Although none of the drivers failed the testing, Rory McIlroy did say that TaylorMade was “singled out a bit more than anyone else.”

    “A manufacturer is always going to try and find ways to get around what the regulations are. It's a bit of an arms race,” said McIlroy, who plays TaylorMade equipment but said his driver was not tested. “If there is some drivers out there that have went a little bit over the limit, then obviously guys shouldn't be playing them. I think the manufacturers are smart enough to know not to try to push it too much.”

    There was no individual driver testing at last month’s U.S. Open, and it’s not expected to become the norm on the PGA Tour, but Slumbers did say the R&A tested drivers at an event earlier this year on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Getty Images

    Carnoustie open to any number of scenarios

    By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:07 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Carnoustie holds a distinct position within the Open Championship’s rotation of storied venues. It’s come by its nickname, Car-Nasty, honestly as the undisputed rough-and-tumble heavyweight of all the championship links.

    Historically, Carnoustie is a beast. A punch in the mouth compared to the other stops on The Open dance card. If the likes of the Old Course and Muirfield are the fair ladies of the rotation, the Angus Coast brute would be the unfriendly bouncer.

    As personas go, Carnoustie wears its reputation well, but the 147th edition of the game’s oldest championship has taken on a new look this week. It’s not so much the softer side of Carnoustie as it is a testament to the set up philosophy of the R&A.

    Unlike its sister association in the United States, the R&A allows Mother Nature to decide what kind of test a championship will present and this Open is shaping up to be something far different than what the golf world is accustomed.

    Instead of the thick, lush rough that ringed the fairways in 1999 and 2007, the last two stops at the par-71 layout, this year has a dust bowl feel to it. The stories have already become legend: Padraig Harrington hit a 457-yard drive on the 18th hole during a practice round that bounced and bounded into Barry Burn and on Monday Tiger Woods slashed a 333-yard 3-iron down the same power alley.

    “It’s so fast. It’s nothing like ’99 – that was like a jungle. It was wet, rough was up, there was wind. In 2007, it was cold and green,” said Ernie Els, who has played two championships at Carnoustie. “But this is very, very dry. Very different.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Anywhere else these divergent conditions would simply be the nature of the game’s most hands-off major, but at Carnoustie it’s created an information vacuum and wild uncertainty.

    Within a 48-hour window, two of the championship’s easy favorites offered diametrically contrasting philosophies on how they might play Carnoustie.

    “There's eight or nine drivers we hit. Depending on the wind direction, we could hit more,” said Brooks Koepka, who won his second consecutive U.S. Open last month. “It's so burnt out, where there's a lot of opportunity where the rough's not quite as thick as I expected it to be.”

    That was in contrast to how Jordan Spieth, this week’s defending champion, was thinking he would play the course.

    “I talked to [caddie Michael Greller] a little bit about what he thinks, and he said, ‘You might hit a lot of 5-irons off the tee, you might wear out 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you're used to,’” Spieth said.

    Unlike previous championships that were played at Carnoustie, which were won by the player best prepared to take a punch, this one might come down to which strategy, controlled and calculated or bold and brash, works best.

    In theory, the bombers seem to be on to something, primarily as a result of the dry conditions that have produced uncharacteristically thin and playable rough. The alternative is weaving irons in between the countless bunkers that pepper each fairway, which on links courses are widely considered true hazards compared to what players face at other major venues.

    “I would definitely say it is a bomber’s course,” said Gary Woodland, who counts himself among the long-hitting set. “A lot of the bunkers here are 285, 290 [yards] to cover, for us that’s nothing. You can take them out of play, which normally isn’t the case because it’s windy and rainy over here.”

    That line of thinking leads to a rather narrow list of potential contenders, from betting favorite Dustin Johnson to Rory McIlroy and Koepka. But that logic ignores the inherent unpredictability of The Open, where countless contenders have been undercut by the rub of a bad draw and the always-present danger of inclement weather.

    Although this week’s forecast calls for continued dry weather, winds are currently forecast to reach 25 mph on Sunday which could upend game plans, regardless of how aggressive or conservative one intended to play the course.

    Despite conventional thinking and the realities of a modern game that is being dominated more and more by long hitters, there are compelling arguments for the other side of the bash-or-bunt debate.

    One needs to look no further than Woods’ record on similarly dusty tracks as an example of how a conservative approach can produce championship results. In 2006 at Royal Liverpool, Woods, who is playing his first Open since 2015, famously hit just one driver all week on his way to victory, and he was just as effective in 2000 at St. Andrews when the Old Course also played to a bouncy brown.

    “It could be that way,” Woods said when asked to compare ’06 at Hoylake to this week. “Either case, I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees.”

    Adding to that uncertainty is Carnoustie’s track record in producing late drama on Sunday. This is, after all, the same slice of coast where Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee box with a three-stroke lead in 1999 only to slash his way to a closing triple-bogey 7 and the game’s most memorable, or regrettable, runner-up showing.

    In ’07, the heartbreak went extra frames for Sergio Garcia, who appeared poised to win his first major championship before he bogeyed the last hole and lost a playoff to Harrington.

    Even this week’s baked-out conditions can’t mitigate the importance and challenge of what many consider the most difficult Grand Slam finish; but the yellow hue has certainly created an added degree of uncertainty to an already unpredictable championship.

    Getty Images

    Slumbers: Mickelson penalty 'not good for the game'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 11:44 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said that Phil Mickelson’s controversial penalty at the U.S. Open was not “good for the game,” but he did not say explicitly whether the ruling would have been any different at The Open.

    Speaking Wednesday at his annual address, Slumbers said that he spoke with Mickelson last week about the incident. At Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson hit a moving ball in the third round but was not disqualified for a breach of etiquette. Instead, he received a two-shot penalty under Rule 14-5.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “In the event of a similar situation this week, clearly, the first thing is you understand the facts because you never get the same situation and there will be lots of reasons,” Slumbers said. “But we have looked very carefully at the rules, and I don’t think it was good for the game and not the right way to have played this wonderful sport, and we would make a decision based on the facts of any incident that happened later in the week.”

    Rule 1-2, which includes a clause for disqualification, was not used because the infraction is covered under another rule.

    “Let’s also remember that it’s a moot point for next year,” Slumbers said, “because as of the first of January 2019, there would have been a DQ option in that equivalent rule.”