Just What Wie Wanted to Happen

By Sports NetworkOctober 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Samsung World ChampionshipPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Michelle Wie's second round as a professional was much better than her first.
After starting her pro career with a serviceable, 2-under 70 on Thursday, Wie fired a 7-under 65 on Friday and is tied for second place behind Grace Park after the second round of the Samsung World Championship. Wie is at 9-under-par 135, two off the lead at Bighorn Golf Club.
Park, who led after the first three rounds in 2004, posted a 6-under 66 and has the lead at 11-under-par 133.
Wie has serious company in second place. Annika Sorenstam, the first-round leader, bogeyed her final hole after a spirited conversation with a rules official en route to a 1-under 71. Sorenstam and Rookie of the Year and two-time winner this season Paula Creamer, who shot a 3-under 69, matched Wie at minus-9.
Wie wasted little time in breaking into red figures on Friday. She rolled in a 5-footer for birdie at the first, then pitched her third to 2 feet to set up birdie at the par-5 third. Wie moved to 3 under for her round when she converted a 4-footer for birdie at five.
The 16-year-old found trouble at seven when she had to take a penalty for an unplayable lie. But Wie pitched in her fourth from short of the green to keep her bogey-free round intact.
Wie hit her tee ball to a foot to set up a tap-in birdie at the eighth. She missed a 3-foot birdie chance at nine, but still made the turn at 5-under 31.
On the back nine, Wie collected her first birdie at the 11th from 3 feet out. She made it back-to-back birdies as she two-putted the par-5 12th green.
Wie made a nice par save at the 13th, but did not give herself many looks at birdie the rest of the way. Her best chance came at the last hole as her approach stopped 12 feet from the stick. Wie's birdie putt lipped out, but the teenager felt more relaxed in only her second round as a professional.
'I was at ease today,' said Wie, who began her professional career with a 2-under 70 on Thursday. 'I was trying to make birdie and get back in there. I'm real glad I'm somewhere at the top.'
If Wie is to remarkably win in her first event as a pro, she'll have to get by Park.
Park four-putted the fourth green from 20 feet for a double bogey, but wasted little time in getting back into the tournament. She ran home an 8-footer for birdie at the fifth, then sank a 15-footer for birdie at seven to make the turn at even-par 36.
She began her ascent up the leaderboard with a 3-foot birdie putt at 10. Park made another birdie from 15 feet at the 11th, then made it three in a row with a chip-in birdie at No. 12.
Park was within striking distance after the three birdies early on her back nine, but it was her play late on the back nine that perched her atop the leaderboard.
At the 15th, Park hit a wedge to 10 feet and drained the birdie putt. She hit an 8-iron to 2 feet to set up birdie at 16, then played a 9-iron to 2 feet to complete another three birdies in a row.
Park had a decent look at birdie on the closing hole, but missed her 10-footer.
'I'm very excited to be in the position that I'm in,' admitted Park, who was overtaken by Sorenstam in last year's final round. 'Obviously, I had a sour finish last year, but I'm leading again and I hope to have a different story at the end of the tournament.'
Park has struggled since her final-round collapse last year. She has battled a disc problem in her back and even this week has found some health problems. Her overzealous pro-am partner got a little aggressive with a high-5 and strained Park's shoulder.
'One of those years,' said Park. 'I started out with injuries which kept me out for a month, then I just struggled a little bit and got injured twice more after that. I'm okay now.'
Sorenstam broke clear of the field with a short eagle putt at the 12th, but lost a stroke with a three-putt bogey at No. 16. Things got worse at the closing hole.
Sorenstam hit an errant drive right into a sand area. She wanted relief from the scoreboard, but the drop spot would not allow her to go after the pin. The rules official explained the ruling several times, yet Sorenstam still wanted a better place to drop. The rule only had to provide her a clear shot, which it did, albeit to the extreme left of the green.
The Swede finally dropped and nearly hit the scoreboard, but ultimately came to rest right of the green. She chipped 10 feet past the hole and missed the par save.
'I did not get the relief I wanted,' said Sorenstam. 'The scoreboard was in my way. I thought I could get complete relief. I thought that was the rule. They said, 'no, it's a straight shot.' We disagreed.'
Catriona Matthew made a big move on Friday. She posted a 6-under 66 and is tied for fifth place with Cristie Kerr, who shot a 1-under 71 in the second round. The pair is knotted at 8-under-par 136.
Reigning Women's British Open champion Jeong Jang (68), Rosie Jones (67) and Gloria Park (72) are tied in seventh place at 7-under-par 137.
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”