Two Roads Diverged

By Randall MellJuly 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
Four years ago, they stormed into the Buckeye State on sharply different paths but with something special in common.
Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie both had stardust on their heels.
They arrived at opposite ends of Ohio with big news on their minds.
Pressel was 17, a little more than a week removed from nearly winning the U.S. Womens Open. She was the nations top amateur when she marched into suburban Toledo for the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on a sponsors invite. She came announcing that she was petitioning the LPGA for a waiver of its restriction requiring members be at least 18 years old.
Since their early phenom careers, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel have crossed paths many times. (Getty Images)
Wie was 15, making her news 150 miles south at Shakers Run Golf Club in Lebanon, where she was vying to win a Masters invite by trying to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
They were the hottest teen phenoms in golf, ambitious personalities with polar opposite ideas about how to reach their golf dreams.
Pressel was thundering along golfs traditional path, learning how to win beating juniors and amateurs. Wie was cutting her own path, playing against men and speaking openly about one day playing the PGA Tour.
The fact that no love was lost between them made the possibility of a future rivalry all that much more delicious.
Back then, when Pressel read that B.J. Wie was quoted saying his daughter viewed Tiger Woods as more Michelles rival than Annika Sorenstam, Pressel rolled her eyes.
I would like to see her promote the womens game versus trying to promote herself, Pressel said then.
Four years later, look whos back in Ohio together. Look whos on the leaderboard after the first round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
With her 7-under-par 64 Thursday, Pressel shares the lead with Laura Diaz and Song Hee Kim. Wies a shot back with Suzann Pettersen.
A few short years ago, the sight of Pressel and Wie on a leaderboard together would have jolted LPGA fans off their couches.
A rivalry between these phenoms seemed as inevitable as it was irresistible. Pressel and Wie looked like they were going to sweep the LPGA into a bright new future.
Yeah, its way too early to hope for a Sunday showdown at Highland Meadows Golf Club, but the LPGA could use a bright flash of hope to break the gathering gloom that yet more lousy sponsorship news brought this week. Players left the Wegmans LPGA last week uncertain if that event will be around next year. They arrived at the Jamie Farr to news that the Kapalua LPGA Classic is folding, and then on the eve of this weeks event, Jamie Farr himself said the chances his event will survive are no better than 50-50.
With so many other sponsorship issues brewing, the LPGA could use an exciting diversion this weekend.
While Pressel vs. Wie would be different now, it remains a compelling possibility.
Things have changed from their teen titan days. They actually like each other. They even tweet each other on Twitter.
Pressel, a two-time LPGA winner, is only 21, but shes remaking her game, revamping her swing and that comes with growing pains. Two years ago, she was No. 4 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, the highest ranked American.
Today, shes No. 37 in the world, but shes showing signs that her new swings coming together. She got herself in the final Sunday pairing last weekend at the Wegmans LPGA before fading in the rain. It was encouraging progress with her favorite event, the U.S. Womens Open, coming up next week.
On Thursday, Pressel played alongside world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa and No. 2 Yani Tseng and outplayed them both, bettering Ochoa by three shots and Tseng by four.
Wie, 19, has been up and down in her rookie year since finishing second in the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay. She failed to qualify for the U.S. Womens Open with a poor finish in the sectional qualifier in Maryland last month. A Wie victory this weekend would do more than get her into next weeks U.S. Womens Open. It holds the potential of reigniting Wie Mania.
It may be too much to hope for with so many other strong players in the mix, but should Pressel and Wie turn this event into a showdown, it would put more than a jolt into the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
It would put a jolt into the entire tour.
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    Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

    On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

    In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

    Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

    Getty Images

    Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

    He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

    McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

    "That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

    Check out the full interview below:

    Getty Images

    Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

    By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

    Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

    He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

    He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

    He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

    And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

    While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

    The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

    Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

    Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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    Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

    In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

    Made Cut

    Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

    The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

    To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

    Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

    Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

    The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

    “Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

    Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

    Tweet of the week:

    Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

    “No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

    Missed Cut

    Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

    As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

    Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

    In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

    Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

    Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

    In a story first reported by, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

    The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

    “The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

    Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.