Wie's Solheim spark

By Randall MellSeptember 21, 2011, 4:43 pm

DUNSANY, Ireland – Something about the Solheim Cup transformed Michelle Wie.

She blossomed as a pro in her debut for the Americans two years ago.

She was as good as anyone has ever seen her while helping the Americans beat Europe at Rich Harvest Farms.

In three dizzying days, she looked determined to fulfill all the potential her performance had hinted at over the years.

Over those 72 hours, Wie was literally unbeatable.

A controversial captain’s pick by Beth Daniel, Wie roared through the event with a 3-0-1 record.

“I was so happy when I did well in my first Solheim Cup,” Wie said. “It was a really, truly amazing experience. I’ve never felt so much support.”

It was as if Wie found something that week that she had lost. She rediscovered the hope, promise and confidence that were going to make her the game’s next big star. You could see it in a suddenly revitalized putting stroke, or you could just look at the fire in her eyes.

“Anybody that has said Michelle Wie can’t play under pressure, I think they were proven wrong,” Daniel said after Wie won back-to-back Saturday matches at Rich Harvest Farms. “She was walking on air. She just hit great shot after great shot.”

Can Wie, 21, conjure the magic again this week?

Wie’s first Solheim Cup performance filtered into her game when she returned to the LPGA in the fall of ’09. She broke through to win her first LPGA title at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Wie won again last year, but she’s looking for her first victory this year. She finished second at the CN Canadian Women’s Open a month ago, but it was her only top-10 finish in her last eight starts. She’s still working to find her putting stroke with a new belly putter she put in her bag this summer.

Back in ’09, Wie’s putter got hot at the Solheim Cup after a visit with putting guru Dave Stockton. She’ll be looking to heat it up again at Killeen Castle, where the greens can befuddle.

Wie’s performance at Rich Harvest Farms was memorable, but so was what happened behind the scenes. It was the first time as a pro she felt comfortable dropping her guard. Escaping the cocoon that had been designed to protect her as a teenage prodigy, she connected on a meaningful personal level with fellow LPGA pros.

“I think it’s where she really got to become friends with Morgan Pressel,” said David Leadbetter, Wie’s swing coach.

Away from her parents that week, away from the entourage built to guide a young star, Wie got to show other players a side of herself they had never seen. Pressel remembers bolting out of the team quarters one evening before the competition started.

“Michelle brings out her laptop computer onto the practice putting green, and she’s got the music blaring,” Pressel said. “We’re out there dressed inappropriately for golf. We are in blue jeans and sweat pants, and we’re all dancing on the green. We had this crazy putting contest and just having fun.”

Something about the team atmosphere helped push Wie’s confidence to another level.

“I think there’s something about match play that brings out the best in Michelle, but what happened with the team was extremely important for her,” Leadbetter said. “She sort of had, I don’t want to say a wall around her, but it was a wall to a certain extent, for obvious and understandable reasons. She was young. She was special. She had all these sponsorships, and because of all of that, she was looked at differently. But she really got into the team environment. I think it was one of those times she could really express herself, with no outside pressures. She made so many friendships that week that have meant a lot to her.”

Wie didn’t even mind letting players who are fierce rivals every other week see her flaws.

“Out on tour, it can be so serious, where you are trying to show your game faces to each other, but it’s different in the team room at the Solheim Cup,” Wie said. “They got to see how I’m always falling, or running into something, or saying something stupid.

“With 150 women out on tour, you can’t get to know everyone. At the Solheim Cup, it’s different. There are only 12 of us, and we are together all the time. We eat together, sleep together, hold each other’s hands. Before I got to my first Solheim Cup, I knew all of the other players, and I respected them, but I didn’t really know them personally. At the Solheim Cup, you really get to know each other, and you get to know each other beyond golf.”

Wie’s looking for that atmosphere to light another spark in her game.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”