Love of the game: Wie a factor once again

By Randall MellJune 28, 2017, 3:00 pm

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Michelle Wie still loves the game.

She may be one of golf’s great mysteries, but that’s what cuts through the fog when you sort through all the riddles in all the twists and turns in a career that makes the 27-year-old seem like she has been around forever.

Wie is the broken player who is putting herself back together yet again.

How is she managing to do it once more? She loves the game. It’s the only explanation.

“You have to hand it to her,” said David Leadbetter, her long-time swing coach. “She’s gutted it out through all the difficult times. She’s hung in there through all the injuries, through all the criticism that so many nasty people have thrown at her, when she could very easily have just chucked in the towel and said ‘This isn’t fun anymore. This isn’t worth it anymore. I’ve got enough money, what the hell am I doing?’ She’s a fighter, she really is.”

Wie arrives for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club this week as a threat to win.

That’s a head scratcher when you think back to a year ago and the awful slump she was mired in when she arrived at this championship. She shot 78 and 80 to miss the cut at Sahalee and left the Great Northwest looking totally lost. She left looking as if she might finally be broken for good.


KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Wie missed the cut or withdrew in 10 of 12 events last summer.

Just look at her now.

You can’t knock this woman out.

Up off the mat, Wie’s radiating with renewed confidence.

With her final-round 64 Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas championship, Wie tied for fourth. The week before that, she tied for second at the Meijer Classic. The week before that, she tied for third at the ShopRite Classic.

That’s four finishes of T-4 or better now in her last five starts.

“I came into this year really motivated, but feeling like I had nothing to lose,” Wie told GolfChannel.com after hitting balls on the range Tuesday at Olympia Fields.

This is starting to feel like that roll Wie got on before she won twice in 2014, before she won the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.

“She’s seeing results, and she’s really getting some confidence,” Leadbetter said. “I don’t think she’s far away from winning. I really don’t. She’s got her game to where she could really do some damage the second half of this season.”

Wie’s heating up at the right time with three majors over the next six weeks and with the Solheim Cup just eight weeks away.

“This year just felt like a fresh start,” Wie said.

What has fueled this latest resurgence?

Three things stand out.

*Wie is healthy.

*She has found and grooved a dependable stock fade.

*She has completely turned around her putting with an on-again, off-again claw grip.

Wie used to like to hit her irons with a fairly straight ball flight, while hitting a draw with her driver. Now, she hits a fade nearly all the time, with her irons and woods.

“I’ve been a streaky player in the past, so I was just trying to find more consistency, to be able to hit more fairways when I needed to,” Wie said.

She actually found the fade last season.

“I changed to it last year, which I think is a reason I struggled,” said Wie, a four-time LPGA winner. “Anytime you try to change your ball flight, it takes time.”

Wie ditched her unorthodox table-top putting stance after missing the cut in the season opener in the Bahamas this year. She said she hit the ball great there but putted awfully. Frustrated, she sought out Leadbetter at the Honda Classic near her home in Jupiter, coaxing him away from the PGA Tour pros to go work with her at the Bear’s Club.

“That was the turning point for me,” Wie said.

That’s where Leadbetter made a radical suggestion.

“He proposed I putt with the claw grip,” Wie said. “It’s funny how things work with David and I, how he will suggest something that I’ve been thinking about.

“I tinkered around with it, and it felt good.”

As is Wie’s way, she has tinkered with Leadbetter’s suggestion, putting her own distinctive signature on the claw.

At first, she went all claw, with a Sergio-style claw grip. Then she modified it, going to a version of a claw setup. She would set up with the claw grip, then move her hand back to a conventional grip just before taking the putter back. The key to that move was keeping her elbow bent as if she was still in the claw grip.

“With the conventional grip, she kept her elbow bent as if she was still in the claw grip, almost like a violinist, working back and forth on a constant plane and arc,” Leadbetter said.

Today, Wie still has some weird science working for her, and she’s OK with that. Now, she’s setting up consistently in the claw grip, sometimes making the stroke with it, sometimes moving back into a conventional grip, just before taking the putter back.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Leadbetter said. “She says her brain tells her what’s comfortable when she’s about to make the stroke, and she just goes with it.”

Lydia Ko used to alternate her grips during a round, going from left-hand low to conventional. She would go left-hand low for shorter putts, conventional for longer putts.

Wie confirms it doesn’t work like that for her.

“I make my decision as I’m over the ball,” Wie said. “I call it the ‘Whatever System.’ But I feel great about it.”

Leadbetter likes Wie’s consistent upright posture and stance, whether she goes claw or not.

“Putting is such a catalyst to everything,” Leadbetter said. “Look, you can hit the ball great, but if you can’t capitalize on the shot you hit ... She’s making putts, and she’s making lengthy putts.”

Leadbetter knows he may never cure Wie of her love of tinkering, but he also knows that’s how her creative mind works. It keeps her loving the game.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 9:00 am

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson