Don't give up on Wie

By Jason SobelApril 23, 2012, 5:42 pm

Allow me to begin by posing a hypothetical scenario ...

There's this college kid. Highly touted golfer, has been ever since he was competing in professional events as a young teenager.

As bright as his future appears, it's nearly been eclipsed by the present. That's because while still taking a full course load at a prestigious undergraduate program, he's won two tournament titles at the game's most elite level and ascended to a spot amongst the top 20 golfers in the world.

It's something that none of the legends have accomplished. Jack Nicklaus wasn't winning pro events while attending Ohio State; Tiger Woods wasn't racking 'em up at Stanford.

So, what do you think? Pretty impressed by this hypothetical up-and-comer? Would you be ready to declare him the Next Big Thing in golf?

Well, good. Keep those thoughts in mind, because this scenario isn't hypothetical at all.

It's just that he is a she – and her name is Michelle Wie.

References to Wie are often accompanied by thoughts of negative connotations. She was the It Girl who tried to hang with the big boys – and never made the cut. Her victory-to-national television commercial ratio is below the Mendoza Line. She’s been called a bust before she ever had the chance to prove the theory wrong.

With her latest rash of poor performances, Wie isn’t doing much to win fans and influence people.

She has now missed the cut in three consecutive LPGA starts for just the second time in her career and the first time in a half-decade. That statistic is exacerbated by the fact that in the latest tournament in this streak, Wie not only missed the cut at the Lotte Championship, she missed it by a mile after posting scores of 78-76. It’s exacerbated by the fact that it came on her home course, Ko Olina Golf Club. And that she hit her first two drives of the second round into a parking lot. And that a statue inspired by her stands just outside the clubhouse.

It’s one thing to have a bad week. It’s quite another to have that bad week in front of your own statue.

This all comes on the tail of Wie’s recent graduation from Stanford – and it may serve as symbolism for her passage from childhood to a full-time member of the workforce. Gradually, her phenom status has been usurped by Lexi Thompson and it doesn’t help that undisputed No. 1-ranked player and five-time major champion Yani Tseng is just nine months her senior.

For the first time in years, critical comments in regard to Wie’s game are completely justified. She ranks 141st on the LPGA in driving accuracy – second-to-last of those who have hit enough tee shots. She is 109th in greens in regulation percentage. And her putts per round – forever a bugaboo, even when she’s playing well – is currently at 134th on the list.

Armed with that barrage of knowledge, it’s easy for those still on the bandwagon to jump off, and those already off to throw stones as it methodically sputters along like the Little Engine That Could.

I won’t dispute that Wie’s latest performances are cause for concern; in fact, those heavily invested in her future prospects should be downright petrified at what has been a shocking turn of events, especially since it’s taken place at the very time when her focus and attention to the game should be at an all-time high following the conclusion of her collegiate responsibilities.

And yet, I do subscribe to the longstanding assertion which states: “Form is temporary; talent is forever.” Wie’s game most certainly isn’t in top form right now, but she still wields as much innate talent as nearly any female golfer on the planet.

That is why, when proffered with the query as to what her future holds, it’s important to look less at the past month of poor play and more at her body of work as a whole. She is still the same player who won twice while burdened by academic responsibilities, the same player who claimed seven top 10s at major championships before even entering college.

No, Wie may never live up to the hefty expectations placed upon her long ago, but such foresight is often flawed when trying to predict the futures of young athletes.

Instead, she shouldn’t be measured against those expectations, but against her peers. Wie is enduring some potholes on the road to success, but it’s a road on which she’s been cruising down the fast lane since well before she could legally drive.

She has already accomplished more as a part-time professional than many of her fellow competitors will accomplish in a career. The critics are justified for unabashed denunciations of her play of late, but as so often happens in this game, don’t be surprised if talent prevails over form.

Michelle Wie has proven that while she may be lacking in the latter, her overall abilities trump those short-term foibles – even if it takes a not-so-hypothetical scenario to remind us.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: