Wie Continues to Stir Up Emotions

By George WhiteJuly 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
Everyone, it seems, has a word or a thousand to say about Michelle Wie. Below is a sample of the flood of e-mails commenting on my Thursday column (Read - The Only Criterion - They Will Watch). I have withheld the authors names to protect the innocent.
Incidentally, there were 156 players in the John Deere field, and among them were eight sponsors exemptions. Four were restricted to PGA Tour members who werent otherwise exempt for the tournament. The other four are unrestricted ' they go to whomever the sponsor wishes to invite (in this case, Michelle.)
Those who dont agree with the Wie invite had better get used to it ' John Deere tournament director Clair Peterson says seven more events have invited the 15-year-old. Of course, she cant accept them all. There is no indication that she will accept any except the Sony Open in Hawaii. With that ' happy reading!
  • Right on! When are professional athletes going to get it? They want to play a game for a ridiculous amount of money, all the while being provided with extravagant perks at the sponsor's expense. Then they have the audacity to complain when the sponsor tries to maximize its return by inviting Michelle Wie instead of some unknown 'Professional Golfer'.
  • Its too bad that it's all about money. I don't think that a 15 year old, no matter how good she is, should be treated as a god. Golf was something to be admired, but now with all the gimmicks (i.e. Michelle Wie) it's now only a sport to see who can get the most people there so they can make the almighty dollar.
  • Michelle's appearance will no doubt increase attendance at the event, which translates into more dollars for the charitable organizations the PGA Tour so strongly supports. As for the so-called golf fans who criticize her inclusion, I would suggest to them that there are more pressing issues in our world over which they should be concerned.
  • I never gave a hoot about this tournament, but this week my 13-year-old daughter and three of her golf buddies are watching and recording the event. These girls never cared about the PGA, LPGA or even Annika, but they follow Wie - something about the way she does not care about what others say or write that appeals to kids. Now they are wearing the same earrings and dreaming of hitting the ball 300 yards. I hope she does not make the cut, or my weekend will be ruined as I would have to stay at home caring for four young girls.
  • Miss Wie in her innocence might just be having fun competing against the guys, but you can bet that every chauvinist group - male or female - has a stake in this each time she tees it up. I would love to see her take control of the ladies tour and when she gains the top status over there, bring her out and really let her show here stuff against the guys. Let her grow into the fabulous player that she's destined to be. She is special.
  • To add a just a little bit of credence to the thesis of your article, the only reason I set up my ReplayTV unit to record Round 1 and Round 2 of the John Deere classic is because Michelle Wie is in the field.
  • No one has the right to make a living playing golf. The public is willing to pay and watch a golf tournament because it is entertaining. Just like a movie, a successful golf tournament requires stars and/or a good story. The supporting cast members (or non-star pro golfers) can complain all they want, no one buys a ticket to watch them act (or play golf) because they have a right to make a living. Michelle first showed up as a good story, now we are hooked on her as a star.
  • I was of the opinion that Michelle should learn how to win against her peers before taking on the LPGA or PGA tour members. That is, until I saw her at the U.S. Women's Open in Denver. She definitely plays a game altogether different from everyone else, and I'm not talking just length. Her swing is obviously modeled after a male (Tiger?) and her drive and acceleration through the hitting area is something to see in person.
  • Talking about sour grapes! I'm referring to those who say Michelle is taking other professionals places. You hit the nail on the head. The PGA is all about the size of the 'gate' and TV audiences....It's a no-brainer that the tour will benefit hugely by her participation.
  • The bottom line is, Michelle Wie does not belong in this or any other PGA tournament. Of course tour players dont mind if she plays - it means more money for them and one less player in the field that can beat them. Yes it is the tournament sponsors right to have anyone play, but they should meet some qualifications. If not you could have the potential to have some very unusual situations happening on tour.

  • Your thoughts about Wie in the PGA are right on. When I was a little boy, I thought professional baseball was played just for fun. I didn't realize it was for pay because it was just a game in my mind. How could you get paid for that? Well, only if you were good enough that people wanted to pay to watch you.
  • How Wie could draw bigger galleries than John Rollins shows that even the PGA is invaded by the mass mainstream that watches The real fans that are the lifeblood of the PGA are watching the real players, not the carnival act, and will not fade away.
  • I am a 56-year-old male who took up golf a few years ago. I am fascinated by the ability of a 15-year-old girl to be able to compete at this level. I may be overstating it, but how much interest would there be in this tournament absent Michelle Wie - local fans? As to those professionals who are concerned about her taking a spot - perhaps if they played to a higher level they wouldn't have to worry.
  • There are four words that make me violently reach for the remote to change the channel: Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie. I doubt that I will watch one shot of the Michelle Wie Classic... er I mean The John Deere Classic.
  • What would the golf world be doing if it was a 15-year-old male with the same talent as Wie? He would be on the all the golf books front page every day. At her age, male our female, she is something special, so just set back and enjoy.
  • I can't imagine any of her critics would honestly go play in a junior tournament instead of playing in a pro event if they honestly believed they could win. Heck, Johns Hopkins University runs a youth program whereby highly intelligent 7th and 8th graders take the college entrance exam simply to gauge how smart they are. I never heard of any parent complaining that their talented kid should be taking the 7th and 8th grade exams because getting a top score in an easy exam is the best way to learn how to get top scores on more advanced, higher level exams.
  • Any of the touring pros who dont like it ought to instead be thanking their lucky stars for the likes of Mr. Palmer, Mr. Nicklaus and Mr. Woods for collectively raising the economics of this great game to the absurd cash cow it is for all of them. And while theyve got this cute girl on the course, be thankful shes RAISING everybodys payday and not asking for any herself. After all, someday she might be TAKING their money, and then theyll REALLY have something to complain about!!
    Email your thoughts to George White
    Related links:
  • Michelle Wie's Scorecard

  • Full Coverage - John Deere Classic
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    After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

    Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

    A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

    So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray

    On the difference between this week and last week ...

    There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

    Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

    At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard

    On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

    Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

    Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

    This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

    Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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    Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

    Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

    After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

    Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

    “Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”

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    Casey comes up short (again) to Bubba at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:07 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Staked to a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Travelers Championship, Paul Casey watched his opening tee shot bounce off a wooden wall and back into the middle of the fairway, then rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt off the fringe.

    At the time, it appeared to be a not-so-subtle indicator that Casey was finally going to get his hands on a trophy that has barely eluded him in the past. Instead it turned out to be the lone highlight of a miserable round that left the Englishman behind only Bubba Watson at TPC River Highlands for the second time in the last four years.

    Casey shot the low round of the tournament with a third-round 62 that distanced him from the field, but that opening birdie turned out to be his only one of the day as he stalled out and ultimately finished three shots behind Watson, to whom he lost here in a playoff in 2015.

    Casey’s score was 10 shots worse than Saturday, as a 2-over 72 beat only five people among the 73 others to play the final round.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “I mean, I fought as hard as I could, which I’m proud of,” Casey said. “Not many times you put me on a golf course and I only make one birdie. I don’t know. I’d be frustrated with that in last week’s event, but it is what it is.”

    Casey led by as many as five after his opening birdie, but he needed to make a 28-foot par save on No. 10 simply to maintain a one-shot edge over a hard-charging Watson. The two men were tied as Casey headed to the 16th tee, but his bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 combined with a closing birdie from Watson meant the tournament was out of reach before Casey even reached the final tee.

    Casey explained that a “bad night of sleep” led to some neck pain that affected his warm-up session but didn’t impact the actual round.

    “Just frustrating I didn’t have more,” he said. “Didn’t have a comfortable swing to go out there and do something with.”

    Casey won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship to end a PGA Tour victory drought that dated back to 2009, but after being denied a second victory in short succession when he appeared to have one hand on the trophy, he hopes to turn frustration into further success before turning the page to 2019.

    “I’m probably even more fired up than I was post-Tampa to get another victory. This is only going to be more fuel,” Casey said. “I’ve got 12 events or something the rest of the year. So ask me again in November, and if I don’t have another victory, then I will be disappointed. This is merely kind of posturing for what could be a very good climax.”

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    Bubba thrives in his comfort zone

    By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:02 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – The 1:20 p.m. pairing Sunday at TPC River Highlands spanned the spectrum on the PGA Tour. In one corner stood science. Bryson DeChambeau, whose quantitative approach to golf seemingly knows no bounds, was looking to add another victory after winning a playoff earlier this month at Jack’s Place.

    On the other side was art.

    Bubba Watson doesn’t float golf balls in Epsom salt to identify minor imperfections. He doesn’t break out a compass to find the slightest errors in the Tour-supplied pin sheet. Even when he texts caddie Ted Scott, he prefers to use voice text rather than rely on his admittedly sub-optimal spelling.

    But strolling along one of his favorite landscapes, Bubba the artist came out on top. Again.

    Watson is in the midst of a resurgent season, one that already included a third victory at one of his favorite haunts in Riviera Country Club. It featured a decisive run through the bracket at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and a return to the leaderboards at Augusta National where he fell short of a third green jacket.

    It only makes sense, then, that he’d build upon that burgeoning momentum at the Travelers Championship, where he earned his first PGA Tour victory in 2010 and Sunday joined Billy Casper as the tournament’s only three-time champ with a final-round 63 to catch and pass Paul Casey.

    This is a place where Watson can bomb drives by feel and carve short irons at will, and one where he officially put his stamp on the best season to date on Tour.

    “His hand-eye coordination is by far one of the best I’ve ever seen,” DeChambeau said. “You’ve got me who was just struggling off the tee, and he’s just swiping shots down there. It was cool to watch. I wish I could do that. I probably could do that, but I just don’t feel like I’d be as consistent as he is.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Consistency wasn’t an apt descriptor a year ago, as Watson went from two-time major champ to completely off the radar. His world ranking, which began last year at No. 10 and is now back up to No. 13 after he became the first three-time winner this season, fell as far as 117th before his win at Riviera in February.

    Watson attributes much of the turnaround to a change in health. Never really one to tip the scales, he lost 25 pounds in a three-month span last year while battling an undisclosed health concern. After putting some of the weight back on, he’s now able to focus more of his time and energy on fine-tuning one of the Tour’s most distinctive approaches.

    “Anytime any of these guys kind of get comfortable with just being them, and golf is secondary in a sense, it helps them reach their potential,” said Scott. “I think the hype and the pressure can sometimes put things out of sort. And right now he’s just very comfortable with who he is as a person, and I think in his life. It helps him relax on the golf course.”

    What Watson doesn’t prefer to mention is the equipment change he made that serves as a not-so-subtle line of demarcation. The southpaw turned heads at the end of 2016 when he agreed to play a colored Volvik ball on Tour during the 2017 season, only to watch his results fall off a cliff. A return to the Titleist ball he previously used has coincided with some of the best results of his 12-year career.

    “I don’t think it has had any (role) in my success,” Watson said. “My clubs weren’t going the distance that I used to. I couldn’t shape it the way I want to. Luckily for me, I know the problem, and the problem was with health and not all these other things.”

    But regardless of the true source of his turnaround, Watson is back to doing what he does best. That includes carving up the handful of venues that most fit his unique eye, be they lined by thick kikuyu rough outside Los Angeles or dotted with menacing water hazards outside Hartford.

    The artistic touch was on full display with his final swing of the day. Facing exactly 71 yards to a pin tucked barely over the edge of a yawning bunker on No. 18, Watson laid the face open on his 63-degree wedge and hit a cut shot that spun and checked to inside 3 feet.

    “Teddy put his arm around me, like, ‘That was an amazing shot,’” Watson said. “He’s seen a lot of shots, he’s been out here for many years. So for him to realize it, and other players to text me and realize it, it was special.”

    While it seemed at the time like a shot that gave Watson a glimmer of hope in his pursuit of Casey, it ultimately turned out to be the final highlight of a three-shot victory. It’s the type of shot that few, if any, of his peers can visualize, let alone execute with such exact precision with the tournament hanging in the balance.

    It’s the type of shot that separates Watson – the quirky left-hander with the pink driver who openly talks about his struggles with on-course focus and abhors few things more than trying to hit a straight shot – from even the best in the game when things are firing on all cylinders.

    “The skills have always been there, as you know. But he’s just more relaxed now,” Scott said. “And when these guys, obviously when they enjoy it, they can play at their best and not get too stressed.”