Wie Headed Back to School

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. (AP) -- Time to put down the golf clubs and grab those schoolbooks. Michelle Wie has, like, a math test to take.
As the eighth-grader is prone to say, that's cool.
Wie is content to give women's golf a handful of tantalizing glimpses each year, at least until she's 18 and even longer if she follows through on her plans to attend college.
She's still more than six months away from her 14th birthday, holding the future of the sport in her grasp even as she pauses to watch 'S Club 7' (the televised adventures of a British pop group) or listen to a rap CD by 50 Cent.
Wie has played in two LPGA Tour events this year, more than holding her own against women two, three, even four times her age. She tied for ninth at the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She followed up last weekend with a solid 3-under 213 at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship south of Atlanta, making the cut against a strong field.
Wie could join the LPGA Tour tomorrow and probably be one of the better players. But she has no desire to speed up the learning curve, willingly settling for the LPGA's allotment of six events each year.
Next up is the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey on the last weekend of June.
'I think six times is OK for me now,' Wie said. 'I may get sick of it if I played every week out here.'
This way, she's having the time of her life.
Already 6-feet tall, the young Hawaiian's smooth, powerful swing has drawn comparisons to Ernie Els. Big Easy, meet the Big Wiesy.
No one on the LPGA Tour hits the ball as far or as high as Wie, who didn't hesitate trying to drive the green on the 306-yard seventh hole at Eagles Landing Country Club. Everyone else laid up.
'If you didn't see who was swinging, and you saw the ball take off, you'd think a man hit it,' World Golf Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez said. 'The ball is so hot coming off the face, and the flight is so high.'
Wie is definitely intrigued by the idea of following Annika Srenstam to the PGA Tour. Srenstam will play in the Bank of America Colonial next month, a groundbreaking event that may be a precursor to Wie's own career plans.
'Sure,' she said. 'Why not?'
Even now, according to her father, Wie is more comfortable teeing it up with men. She's signed to play a Canadian Tour event this summer and doesn't hide her desire to make a run at the Masters through one of the amateur qualifying events.
'She watches how the men play,' B.J. Wie said. 'She listens to the sound of the club head, the way the ball sounds. Instinctively, she tries to keep up with them. It will help Michelle get better playing with men. She plays like they play. She likes to be more aggressive. She doesn't mind going into the rough if she's 100 yards ahead of everyone else.'
Wie's coach, Gary Gilchrist, said his star pupil already has a club speed that measures up to players on the PGA Tour. She's a good 15 percent quicker than those she competed with in the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
'She has those long arms, and she can really coil the body,' Gilchrist said. 'The other thing that helps is her technique is very good. She has great fundamentals. When everything is in sync, she can really hit it far.'
There's still some things to work on. Wie doesn't have the time to take up a strenuous training program like golfers who play for a living. Admittedly, the youngster tired out on a bit Sunday in warm, humid temperatures.
Also, Wie needs to toughen up mentally, another natural progression as she goes through her teenage years.
'Just playing at this level will help her mentally,' Gilchrist said. 'The big thing is learning to hate bogeys and love pars.'
After the ShopRite Classic, Wie will play in the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic Aug. 14-17, the Safeway Classic Sept. 26-28 and the C.J. Nine Bridges Classic in her parents' native South Korea Oct. 16-19.
Somewhere in there, she'll find time to begin ninth grade.
'I'd like to see Michelle have as normal a childhood as she possibly can,' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said. 'When she's ready to become a member of the LPGA Tour, we'll welcome her with open arms.'
Wie comes from a family that values education and she wants to attend Stanford (where her hero, a guy named Tiger Woods , once played). Of course, those plans could change over the next 4 years.
'What if she wins an LPGA event when she's 14 or 15?' Gilchrist said. 'I believe she already has the game to win a major with a good week. If she does, what happens then? You have to have more than one game plan.'
In the meantime, plenty of events are trying to get their hands on the future of women's golf.
B.J. Wie already has gotten calls from a couple of tournament directors wanting to extend an early invitation for 2004. Clearly, she already fits in.
'They treated me, like, just an LPGA player, not a 13-year-old,' Wie said before flying back to Hawaii for that math test. 'It was really nice being at the same level as them.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up


TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.