Wie moves near Open lead with stunning 66

By Randall MellJuly 6, 2012, 11:05 pm

KOHLER, Wis. – From a couple hundred yards away, Suzann Pettersen could detect the difference in Michelle Wie’s game.

Playing behind Wie, Pettersen could see the most obvious sign that something special was finally coming back to Wie Friday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Pettersen could see a flurry of fist pumps.

“I know Michelle has been struggling this year, but I must say, playing behind her, I don't think I've ever seen her make as many putts as she did today,” Pettersen said. “She was fist pumping every putt she looked at.”

In what has already been a long, hard season, Wie found more than a lost putting stroke and lost swing. She found the joy that had been missing from her game.

“I’m pretty stoked to be back in contention and honestly not have to worry about the cut line,” Wie cracked. “It feels pretty good.”

The frustration of so many missed cuts this season melted away Friday with Wie posting a 6-under-par 66, a record score for the two U.S. Women’s Opens held at Blackwolf Run. It was three shots better than Wie’s previous best score in eight other U.S. Women’s Opens.

Wie, a two-time LPGA winner, has six finishes of fourth or better in U.S. Women’s Opens but no top-10 finshes in the event in six years.

Wie pulled this golden round from a season that has been too much of a mess for her liking. She arrived at Blackwolf Run having missed seven of her last eight cuts worldwide.

“It’s really a confidence boost for the weekend,” Wie said. “I’m just going to build on it.”

Wie’s putting stroke, such a troublesome facet of her swooning game, looked renewed in the second round.

Her uncertain jab was gone with Wie needing just 23 putts, 12 fewer than she needed in the first round. A smooth, confident stroke helped Wie with 13 one-putts.

This renewal also has spread into Wie’s full swing.

Enamored for a time of stingers and sawed-off, three-quarter shots, Wie displayed a swing that was longer and more fluid again. Asked earlier this week if she were becoming too mechanical, she said her problem was more a tendency to analyze too much and to try to be too perfect. She said she’s working more now on just hitting shots.

Brittany Lang saw the difference playing alongside Wie on Friday.

“She just looked more relaxed,” Lang said. “My brother made the point to me that Michelle looks like she’s hitting more full shots than she had been playing. She looks like she’s getting more tempo with her swing. She’s a great player hitting stingers, but with the full swing she seems to be hitting it more solid.”

Wie has sought so much help for her putting woes the last few years. She has gone to all the gurus: Dave Stockton, Dave Pelz and Stan Utley. She even experimented with the belly putter, an unwieldy device she tried to master with numerous unsuccessful grips. She has stuck with a standard-length Nike prototype blade the last three months and putts left-hand low.

Over a recent dinner near Wie’s South Florida home in Jupiter, Wie got some sound advice from a trusted mentor, Meg Mallon, the U.S. Solheim Cup captain.

“She is like my second mother,” Wie said.

Mallon’s help was wrapped in lots of encouragement.

“I told her you cannot talk to one great player who has not gone through trials and tribulation during their career,” Mallon said. “We talked about her putting and a couple things maybe she wasn’t thinking about. I watched her at Shoprite in Atlantic City, and I told her she was making better strokes with more commitment, just giving her positive reinforcement. ”

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, another South Floridian close to Wie, also gave Wie a couple putting drills to work on.

Wie’s long-time coach, David Leadbetter, has helped Wie fight through all her struggles. Wie continues to rely on him and recently expanded her team to include Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott and their Vision 54 program. Vision 54’s focus is on the “mental, emotional and spiritual” dimensions of the game.

“We worked on a lot of different drills and just believing in yourself,” Wie said. “Even when you're kind of not playing well, kind of try to look at the positives, and at least bring out one positive, one good thing, that you did and keep working on it.”

Wie understands one great round doesn’t mean more struggles aren’t awaiting. She called Friday part of a work in progress. Still, she needed Friday. She needed the reward for the work she is putting in to turning her game around.

“When you are playing this badly, it can really define who you are,” Wie said before the start of this U.S. Women’s Open. “I want to become someone who gets through it and becomes a stronger person because of it. I’m trying really hard. I’m practicing really hard.”

Mallon likes the attitude.

“By no means does this mean she’s out of it now, but she is doing the right things,” Mallon said.

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PGA Tour Latinoamerica moving season finale to Doral

By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 2:36 pm

PGA Tour Latinoamerica announced Wednesday that it will play its season finale, the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, at Trump National Doral from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

The limited-field event will feature the top 60 players on the circuit's money list competing on Doral's Golden Palm Course.

“We are very happy that we will continue playing the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship in South Florida, and Doral is a tremendous community that we know will open its arms to our players and this tournament,” PGA Tour Latinoamerica president Jack Warfield said in a statement.

The PGA Tour ended its more than 50-year relationship with Doral and the resort's Blue Monster course back in 2016, when Cadillac's title sponsorship of the World Golf Championship lapsed and as then-candidate Trump was mounting his bid for the presidency.

"We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf," then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in December 2015, referring to Trump's campaign rhetoric concerning Mexicans and Muslims.

The event was moved to Mexico City in 2017 and renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The Latinoamerica Tour Championship was staged the last two years at Melreese Country Club in Miami, where David Beckham is currently attempting to build a stadium for his Major League Soccer expansion club, Inter Miami.

PGA Tour Latinoamerica's release states that the move to Doral "keeps the event in this part of the Sunshine State and allows the tournament to maintain its ties to The First Tee of Miami as a charitable recipient and sponsor." Melreese, the city's only public golf course, is home to the First Tee of Miami, which naturally opposes Beckham's efforts to close the facility and repurpose the land.

A November referendum will ask voters to decide if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham's ownership group, which seeks to $1 billion dollar complex comprising of the proposed stadium, youth soccer fields, a park, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.

Im wins Web.com Player and Rookie of the Year awards

By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 1:22 pm

Sungjae Im on Thursday was named the Web.com Tour's 2018 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

Im won twice on the Web.com this year, taking the season opener in January, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, and the season finale in August, the WinCo Foods Portland Open, to become the first player in history lead the circuit's money list wire-to-wire.

Im is the first Korean-born player to win the Web's POY award and, at 20 years old, its youngest recipient.

In a player vote, Im bested Anders Albertson, Sam Burns, Kramer Hickok and Martin Trainer, 2018's only other two-time winner, for POY honors, and Burns, Hickock, Trainer and Cameron Champ for ROY honors.

“My first year on the Web.com Tour was an incredibly happy time for me,” Im said, “and it’s pretty surreal that I was able to win the first and last tournament of the season. I honestly thought I would spend about two to three years on the Web.com Tour before making it to the PGA Tour, so I’m happy to have achieved my goal so soon. I’m grateful to have earned the Player of the Year honors and I hope to finish the remainder of the PGA Tour season on a good note.”

In his first PGA Tour start, Im tied for fourth at the Safeway Open, earning $241,280, a little less than half of the $534,326 he amassed in 25 starts as the Web's regular-season money winner.

Playing this week's CJ Cup in his native South Korea, Im opened with a 1-over 73 Thursday.

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Former DJ advisor found guilty in embezzlement case

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 12:38 pm

A federal jury has found Nathan Hardwick, a former advisor to Dustin Johnson, guilty of embezzling $26 million in funds from his now-bankrupt real estate closing firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider.

Per Golf.com, citing Law.com, a 12-person jury convicted Hardwick of "one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 21 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks."

As for where exactly the money went, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, once again citing Law.com, has the details:

"The alleged spending included $18.47 million on gambling, private jet travel and women from 2011 through August 2014. The prosecution submitted two binders of documentation as evidence that Hardwick spent $4.39 million on “female social companions,” including one testifying witness who claimed to have met him through SugarDaddy.com."

"Other alleged expenditures described in testimony include more than $7 million at casinos, more than $3 million with a bookie, $680,000 for a luxury condo at The St. Regis Atlanta, $273,000 on a diamond ring, $186,000 on a deposit for a party on a private island, and $635,000 on a trip to the 2014 British Open for golfing buddies that included a customized jet and round at St. Andrews."

Johnson in 2014 sued Morris Hardwick Schneider over a $3 million loan he believed to be an investment. Instead, Johnson argued, the money was going to make up for shortages created by Hardwick's embezzlement. Johnson later amended his suit to argue that Hardwick, who previously served on the board of the Dustin Johnson Foundation, was being used as a "pawn" by the firm's other partners. 

That suit was settled in 2016 for $2 million.

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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''