Getty Images

Roundtable: Breaking down the CME's top storylines

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 8:27 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Golf Channel’s Judy Rankin, Karen Stupples and Jerry Foltz broke down some of the storylines at the CME Group Tour Championship in a media roundtable before Thursday’s start.

On Sung Hyun Park, who has a chance to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season . . .

Rankin: “She's the most fearless driver of the golf ball out here. I would put Lexi [Thompson] as a close second and everybody else a distant third.  She hits driver on holes where you shouldn't, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it's nothing. Now that's a little hyperbole, but she'll hit driver almost anywhere.”

Stupples: “It's her hips. Hips are crazy. At impact, her hips are almost fully open. You see that, you think of Rory McIlroy. Everybody talks about how his hips are fast and open, too.”

On Lydia Ko trying to avoid a winless season . . .

Rankin: “I don't know what to think of it. I think she has handled it extremely well, but I can't imagine that she doesn't lay her head on the pillow at night and think, `What happened?’ You know, `Where did I go?’

“I think part of it is just growing up. Part of it, it's sad to say, but in golf, and maybe all the way through life, you come to that point where you've grown up just enough to know things can go wrong, and then they begin to.”

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Stupples: “I think that the [equipment] changes, at that critical time when she's making swing changes, was probably the hardest thing to do. I know she's had to change her shafts at least a couple timings during this process to compensate for different swing changes as well. It's a completely different thing when you're standing there testing drivers, trying to get a different driver to work, or 3‑wood. You're standing there and not spending time working on your pitching and your chipping and your putting. You're spending so much time on swing changes and getting to know the new clubs . . .

“For somebody who has had everything come very easily to her, there was no reason to assume that this wouldn’t just be an easy thing. Then when it didn't come easily, I think it can affect a person's confidence as much as anything. I think her confidence has taken a slight little hit.”

On whether parity or a dominant star is best for a tour . . .

Foltz: “The more people you can develop to the audience in terms of letting them know who they are, and not just watching them on a golf course, the better.  Right now, we have a dozen or so we see each and every week in contention each and every week.  I think that's good for the overall health of the LPGA Tour.

“Now, when you talk about a dominant star being good for it, it can be. Depends who the dominant star is.  If it's someone that sells well in middle America, yes.  If we had Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie head to head every single weekend, our ratings would be through the roof, no question about it, because they're the two biggest stars in America.  You don't get that luxury.

“I think it's very healthy for the game to get a few great players all seemingly in contention through this revolving door throughout the year.”

Stupples: “I kind of like it the way it is.  I like the changing around.  I like the fact that you can have different people win at different times. I mean, otherwise, you roll up at a tournament and basically know that an Annika Sorenstam had a 50/50 chance of winning, or Lorena Ochoa had a 50/50 chance of winning ‑‑ even Yani Tseng when she was No. 1, she would have a 50/50 chance of winning. They were that dominant.

“I kind of like rolling up to a golf tournament knowing that it's pretty open and that anybody could have that chance.”

Getty Images

Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

View this post on Instagram

I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

Getty Images

Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

Getty Images

Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”