Wie's faith in Leadbetter rewarded

By Randall MellNovember 21, 2014, 11:34 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie’s long, hard climb to the mountaintop this year wasn’t a solitary journey.

She scaled doubt, criticism and even ridicule to rebuild her game with the help of her long-time swing coach. David Leadbetter has been the strongest influence in her life outside her parents.

Wie’s unfailing trust in Leadbetter is a big part of the story of how she rebuilt her broken game. They’ve hung in there together even with so many folks blaming Leadbetter for her failure and urging her to find a new coach.

From Wie’s spectacular surge to celebrity as a teen phenom, to her dismal plummet through injury and slumps, Leadbetter has been a constant companion. Wie says Leadbetter is a large reason she never quit believing in herself. They’ve been to hell and back since she was 13.

“David is kind of like a second father to me,” Wie said. “He is definitely one person that has always believed in me, no matter what.”

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With a 5-under-par 67 Friday, Wie is near the top of a leaderboard in yet another big event this year. She moved into a tie for fourth at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, just two shots off the lead. She is giving herself a chance to walk away with $1.5 million on Sunday, the biggest payday in the history of women’s golf. She’s in position to win the $1 million Race to the CME Globe jackpot and the $500,000 Tour Championship winner’s check.

After a frustrating start Thursday, Wie headed straight to the range with Leadbetter.

“We kind of figured out a little something,” Wie said.

For Leadbetter, there’s pride seeing what Wie has overcome winning the Lotte Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. There’s satisfaction, too.

“She’s proven a lot of people wrong,” Leadbetter said.

Wrong about Leadbetter, too.

“People can be nasty,” Leadbetter said. “I always believed there was so much talent there in Michelle, and at some stage it was all going to come out right.”

Leadbetter doesn’t believe Wie has reached her mountaintop yet. With confidence regained, with newfound physical strength, Wie is poised to fuel her resurgence with runs to even greater heights, Leadbetter says.

“Confidence isn’t something you can buy in a bottle,” Leadbetter said. “You have to feel it, and she’s feeling it.

“Michelle’s heading up the ladder, and there’s no reason she can’t climb all the way to No. 1, if she can stay injury free. Nobody out here has the shot making ability she does. Nobody out here can hit the shots she can hit, and her short game is underrated. She can hit these little flops and spinners and has a variety of shots nobody else has.

“And her putting is steady now. I won’t say it’s brilliant, but she’s much more comfortable with her putting now. I really believe if she stays injury free, her best is still to come.”

Leadbetter says there’s a difference in Wie’s team now. She’s leading the way. He says she may still rely on him, and still very much lean on her parents, but it’s different now. She’s in charge.

“I don’t overcoach her,” Leadbetter said. “There are just a few things we work on, and there is always a lot of give and take. She trusts me, but I may suggest some technical thing, and she may say, `Nah, I don’t think so.’ Or she’ll take something and run with it on her own.”

Leadbetter says it’s the same with B.J. and Bo, Wie’s parents. She loves them and still very much values their guidance and the belief they have in her, but she’s ultimately in charge now.

“It’s been a learning experience for everybody,” Leadbetter said. “Her parents have learned. I’m not saying they’ve taken a back seat, but they let her do things her own way. She is very much a free spirit, like a wild horse sometimes. They may say something, where in the past she would acquiesce, and now she may say, `Forget it.’”

Leadbetter says there are a lot of factors in Wie’s emergence this year. She’s better as a player for reasons stemming from something as simple as stronger legs, which make her feet less active and provide a better foundation for her swing, to all the various interests she has developed, from her art to her friendships. He says learning to practice less and more efficiently, to manage injuries and energy, have helped, too.

At the end of last year, Leadbetter urged Wie to put her clubs away for five weeks. Wie did just that. The fact that she is having her best year ever reinforced the importance of time away from golf.

“Michelle is enjoying her life,” Leadbetter said. “She has a really nice balance in her life. In the final analysis, her passion for golf is back.”

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.