Hot Seat: Wie bit spicy

By Randall MellFebruary 14, 2012, 3:14 pm

You might want to loosen your collars, folks, it gets steamy in this space.

It’s time again to see who is taking their places on golf’s Hot Seat.

Here’s our special heat index with the PGA Tour moving to the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and the LPGA heading to the Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club:

Spicy Thai curry delight – Michelle Wie

Wie makes her 2012 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburri.

A year ago, Wie finished second in this event to Yani Tseng, equaling her best finish of the year in her first winless LPGA season since her rookie campaign.

No matter what happens on the golf course, this is a big year for Wie. She will get her degree with a major in communications, graduating from Stanford this spring. Getting the college education was an important goal for the 22-year-old star.

Wie fans are hoping the freedom to focus solely on golf later this season will inspire a big year on the course.

A two-time LPGA winner, Wie has slipped to No. 17 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, making her the sixth highest-ranked American behind Cristie Kerr (No. 4), Paula Creamer (No. 5), Brittany Lincicome (No. 8), Stacy Lewis (No. 9) and Morgan Pressel (No. 16). Wie will be looking to become a factor in the majors again this year. She recorded seven top-10 finishes in her first 11 major championship appearances. She has logged just one in her last 16. A key factor in that is how she’s getting along with her putter. Wie went to a belly putter last summer, experimenting with a variety of grips.

Spencer Levin

China Syndrome – Whoever holds the 54-hole lead for the Northern Trust Open’s final round.

So whose turn is it to melt down next?

Who will be sentenced to sleeping on the third-round lead come Saturday night at Riviera?

If a recent trend of collapses continues, the PGA Tour might want to consider assigning a priest or rabbi to the locker room to meet with the condemned . . . ah, sorry, the 54-hole leader. The Tour also might want to consider showing some mercy on the poor fellow and drape a hood over his head when he steps to the first tee.

The leaders going off last on Sundays at PGA Tour events have the look of the doomed lately.

Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back to beat Kyle Stanley in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago.

Stanley came from eight shots back to win two weekends ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Phil Mickelson came from six back to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this past weekend.

Luke Donald

Baja fever – Luke Donald

The world No. 1 makes his 2012 PGA Tour debut at the Northern Trust Open looking to get off to a better start than he did in Europe.

Donald, who last year became the first player to win the money titles in the same season as a member of both the PGA Tour and European Tour, made a lackluster start on the European Tour two weeks ago. He tied for 48th at Abu Dhabi, finishing 12 shots behind the winner, Robert Rock.

While Donald has some good showings at Riviera, he missed the cut there last year. Before that, though, he finished second, T-6 and T-3.

Aaron Baddeley

Santa Ana wind – Aaron Baddeley

The defending champ always faces some pressure trying to make sure he shakes all the right hands and appears in all the right places in his return.

Baddeley will be looking to become the eighth back-to-back winner in Northern Trust Open history. The others? Phil Mickelson (2008-09), Mike Weir (2003-04), Corey Pavin (1994-95), Arnold Palmer (1966-67), Paul Harney (1964-65), Ben Hogan (1947-48) and MacDonald Smith (1928-29).

Baddeley arrives in good form this week. He was solo fourth last week at Pebble Beach.

Jason Gore

Twitter fever – Jason Gore

With so many folks rooting on the big guy, there’s likely some pressure on Gore in wanting to perform well for all the fans who got him into the Northern Trust Open.

Gore is playing on a sponsor’s exemption, an honor he won with the help of Twitter followers, who mounted a Tweet campaign to get him to Riviera this week.

Back on Jan. 8, Gore tweeted this: “Just signed up for the @ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd be to get a sponsors invitation! #myhometown #mymajor.”

Four days later, the Northern Trust Open offered Gore a spot in the field. Tournament officials then tweeted that news.

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Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm (4) J. Spieth
(32) K. Kisner (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat (19) P. Reed
(38) A. Hadwin
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie (34) H. Li
(52) B. Wiesberger
(60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley (49) C. Schwartzel
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama (6) R. McIlroy (7) S. Garcia (8) J. Day
(30) P. Cantlay
(18) B. Harman (20) X. Schauffele (25) L. Oosthuizen
(46) C. Smith (44) J. Vegas (41) D. Frittelli (42) J. Dufner
(53) Y. Miyazato (51) P. Uihlein (62) S. Sharma (56) J. Hahn
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood (10) P. Casey (11) M. Leishman (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
(26) D. Berger (31) M. Fitzpatrick (23) B. Grace (22) C. Hoffman
(33) K. Chappell (45) K. Stanley (35) B. Watson (36) B. Steele
(58) I. Poulter (51) R. Henley (64) J. Suri (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren (14) P. Mickelson (15) P. Perez: 0-1-0 (16) M. Kuchar
(29) T. Finau (17) R. Cabrera Bello (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-0 (27) R. Fisher
(39) T. Pieters (40) S. Kodaira (37) W. Simpson: 0-1-0 (47) Y. Ikeda
(61) K. Na (59) C. Howell III (50) S.W. Kim: 0-1-0 (54) Z. Johnson
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Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.

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Watch: Thomas saves par from impossible position

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 5:18 pm

Luke List was just hoping for an opening in his Day 1 match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas cracked the door on the par-4 ninth, but then quickly slammed it shut. Thomas, 3 up through eight holes, was in terrible shape after two shots at No. 9. But his third shot was a beauty, and a heartbreaker for List.

Thomas made the putt to halve the hole and make the turn 3 up.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 15 to 25 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

University of Miami coach Patti Rizzo, a four-time LPGA winner, applauds the deferral option. Two years ago, Rizzo lost her best player, Danny Darquea, who turned pro in the spring. It hurt Miami’s team.

“That was probably our best chance in seven years to win the nationals,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said her concerns seeing a player turn pro go beyond how it affects her team.

“What all these girls need to realize now is that a degree is more important than ever,” Rizzo said. “In my day, it was like, 'My chances are pretty good. I will get my card.’ But it’s so much more competitive now. And financially, it’s hard to make it. I think it’s so much harder than it ever was. So many girls aren’t making it, and they need a backup plan.”

Darquea is playing the Symetra Tour now, but Rizzo said she is also back in Miami taking classes to finish up her final semester and get her degree.

“It’s great she is doing that, but it would have been better if she could have stayed in college three more months and got her degree and then turned pro,” Rizzo said. “I think this deferral option is great, and I would think all the college coaches will think so, too.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”