Wie Is Playing - Because Rules Say She Can
Fourteen-year-old Michelle Wie has caused an awful stir among a large segment of golf fans by taking a sponsors exemption offered by the Sony Open. Just about everyone blames Michelle. A few blame the PGA Tour. Virtually no one has thought to blame the Sony corporation. That is ' if anyone is to blame here.
Its right here in the tours constitution, under the heading All-Exempt Tour Priority Rankings.
In category 12, it reads:
12. Sponsor exemptions (a maximum of eight, which may include amateurs with handicaps of 2 or less) on the following basis:
A. Not less than two sponsor invitees shall be PGA Tour members not otherwise exempt.
B. Not less than two of the top 35 finishers and ties from the last qualifying tournament, as well as 2-15 from the 2003 Nationwide Tour money list, if not all of them can otherwise be accommodated.
Ive scoured the rules thoroughly and can find nothing about 14-year-old females ' particularly 6-foot, 14-year-old females who can belt out a steady succession of drives in the 280-290-yard range. I presume that if the sponsor wanted to invite a 6-foot grizzly bear ' who had a 2-handicap ' it would be perfectly permissible. The PGA Tour doesnt specify gender ' or species ' at all in any of the priority categories.
The tour is open to all comers who are least 2-handicappers. Man, woman or transsexual doesnt make the least bit of difference. Whether you have heard of them or not makes even less of a difference.
Somewhere there has been a huge misunderstanding that this tour is supposed to be for men only. The official name certainly doesnt suggest that ' Professional Golfers Association Tour. The LPGA name clearly states that women only are included ' Ladies Professional Golfers Association. But the PGA Tour ' never has been an exclusion. For 58 years only men played, from Babe Zaharias in 1945 until Annika Sorenstam last year. But that is because no one but men qualified ' or was invited. There never was a gender screening.
Im pointing this out because of the considerable amount of e-mails I have received about Wie, saying, basically, Who does she think she is, playing a tournament which is supposed to be for men? Shes doing it because she is accepted under the rules of the organization, and if someone wants a men-only organization, they had better spell that out in the introductory by-laws.
Many have said she received the invite just as a publicity gimmick. Thats probably at least partially true. But everytime Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus play, its a publicity gimmick - at least on a lower level. Neither is going to win the tournament. And yet, no one ever throws the publicity gimmick up to them. They are adored and welcomed, as they should be. But publicity gimmick is used to denote a negative, and in many cases it isnt. Wie in the field is one of those times.
The men who regularly play the tour think she has a right to be here ' at least the ones who have spoken out publicly. Whether its advisable for a 14-year-old to tackle such a hurdle is a different matter. But the pros agree that she has awesome talent, and no one has complained publicly about her teeing it up with them Thursday.
I saw Tiger before he turned pro,' Ernie Els told the Associated Press after playing a practice round with her. 'I think Michelle, a lot of what she did today reminds me a lot of what Tiger used to do. As a woman golfer, she's going to take it to the next level. I don't think I've ever seen a lady golfer swing the club as good as Michelle does.'
Are people irritated because Wie is only 14? Is it because she is female? What is the problem here?
She is in the field solely at the behest of the Sony corporation. She has a 2-or-better handicap (actually, she's PLUS 4.6, according to her GHIN handicap.) And those are the only requirements for an amateur in a PGA Tour event ' that the sponsor wants you, and you have a handicap low enough to play.
'Give her another couple of years to get stronger,' Els said. 'She can play on this tour. If she keeps working, doing the right things, there's no reason why she shouldn't be out here.
Sounds like she has the talent, at least at this tender age, to play again on the tour ' the PGA Tour ' one day. And that notion has been expressed by not just Els, but by Davis Love III, John Huston, Charles Howell III and Tom Lehman, to name just a few of the men weighing in on the subject. She may finish dead last, but in the future, she has the ability to do something the female gender has never done before.
So come on, people, lighten up a little. Wie probably is going to beat someone this week, and the odds are overwhelming that he will be a male. The odds are overwhelming that he will be older than 14. And the odds are that the world will not end just because Michelle Wie is entered in the Sony Open.
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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.