“I finally feel like I really earned it!” claimed a relieved Michelle Wie after realizing that she had, in fact, secured a place on the LPGA Tour for the 2009 season.
Michelle Wie is an official member of the LPGA.
She finished in the top 20 in the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying School in early December.
Michelle Wie didn’t sweep everyone off their feet, although she had the largest crowds following her on the course day after day.
Stacy Lewis won medalist honors, coming in first, winning the LPGA Q School series of five straight rounds at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida. Lewis said she wasn’t all that impressed with Wie. Doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. We do. But we’re just a little bit biased.
Here is Eric Adelson, writer, who sent his insights daily to ESPN.com:
“Now before Don King appears with the steel cage, Lewis didn't make her comments with even a smidgeon of spite. She joked with Wie throughout the round, and praised her afterward. Lewis simply sees 150 or so people lining up along the fairways to watch a fairly-long hitter try to get her LPGA Tour card and, well, ‘from a player's side,’ she says, ‘I don't understand it.’" I’m really warming up to this Eric fellow.
Wie started off her final round with a set of three straight bogeys. I got that creepy feeling of “here we go again”. Just wanted to close my eyes and turn off the computer. Once again she’s so close only to implode. But, lo and behold, she didn’t. She picked herself up, dusted herself off and got back to playing the way we know she can.
Eric Adelson, who is writing a book about Wie, coming out soon and you can pre order right here http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780345511751.html spent each day watch Wie at Q School and sent his daily dispatches special to ESPN.com.
In one of his notes from the “front”, he writes about Wie walking off the 18th green. “Then she approached the scorer’s tent, only to be intercepted by her caddie, who said, ‘Make sure you sign that card.’”
I don’t think I need to remind you of the State Farm failed scorecard signing fiasco.
Adelson says even after she came out of the tent, Wie asked her mom over and over again if she had really made it, like someone waiting for the ax to fall, again.
Here’s a short day-by-day replay. It demonstrates what we know. When Wie is on top, she tends to be vulnerable. If you ask me, it’s the kid in her. She hasn’t had a chance to grow up into the win. Never had to. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see her at the Sony Open in Hawaii, this month, January 12th to the 18th, at the Waialae Country Club.
I liked the way Eric Adelson summed up day one: “Her swing didn't inspire poetry the way it could five years ago, but Wie's swing didn't inspire dirges, either, during her first round at Q-school on Wednesday. It was compact and repeatable and sweet -- maybe not like honey, but definitely like a Toll House cookie left in the fridge overnight.” Right.
Again, Eric Adelson, special to ESPN.com with the insightful paragraph.
“Michelle Wie busted out of hibernation on Thursday at LPGA Tour Q-school, throwing off the robotic shackles of her opening round and going for broke like when she first burst on to the world golf scene. The result was a Wie 3.0 that looked a lot like the Wie 1.0 who won millions in sponsorship money and had hundreds of fans marching behind her every size-11½ step. Friday, she will start Round 3 at 10-under. And for the first time since the Evian Masters in July 2006, she will wake up with a share of the lead in a tournament.” Bravo. Sounds like this guy has a good book coming out.
This is one of those days when we expected possibly the worst, only to be very encouraged by her progress:
Eric Adelson, special to ESPN.com
“Wie showed great maturity in rebounding from two major mistakes. On the second hole, she yanked her 3-wood tee shot way left. Her ball bounced off the cart path and deep into the woods. Wie took a drop and chipped out. But once she got to the green, the 19-year-old three-putted and slapped herself on the thigh. Double-bogey 7. Here's where, in recent years, Wie might have imploded. But she responded with a par, then three straight birdies to briefly lead the field at -11. A similar thing happened on the par-4 13th, where she pulled her drive way left, chipped out, then two-putted for a bogey. But she got that shot back on 16 with a beautifully stroked 12-foot birdie putt. She finished with 30 putts on the day.”
Eric Adelson writes some about the group dynamic Michelle Wie so effortlessly attracts and that will prove to be a fruitful blessing for the LPGA in the coming seasons. Or so we hope, of course. Here is one of the more colorful:
“Two older men walked across a wooden bridge on the way to the 17th tee Saturday on the Champions course at LPGA Q-School. Let's call them Waldorf and Statler. ‘Celebrity worship, that's all this is,’ harrumphed Waldorf. ‘Yeah,’ said Statler. The two men walked a few paces. Then Waldorf spoke again: ‘But she's here, so it's a chance to see her in person.’ Much like the original Waldorf and Statler in the balcony on "The Muppet Show," these two gents grumbled and groused but didn't leave. When Michelle Wie putted out for par on the 18th green for a four-round total of 14-under and a spot in Sunday's final group, the two men were there to see it.”
And that’s what the LPGA needs with Annika Sorenstam retired from competitive golf. No one pulls ‘em in like the celebrity Wie. It’s Tiger-esque. There really is no explaining the why. You’re born with the “smile”, the “wave”, the “IT” factor, or you’re not. For Stacy Lewis to wonder “why” is not surprising. The phenom is not meant to be experienced close up. You don’t want to let them see you cry. That’s when it gets messy. Fortunately for all, at least this chapter in the career of a young woman is very much not.
THE PRINCE RESORTS HAWAII STATE OPEN
Hawaii's top local golfers, amateur and professional, played for money and bragging rights in the Hawaii Prince Resorts Hawaii/TaylorMade Hawaii State Open at the Hawaii Prince Golf Course on the Ewa Plain at the end of November. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of the rainy season. The second round had to be cancelled completely because of the torrential downpours that Saturday, November 22nd.
The Aloha Section PGA tournament committee discussed all options and deemed a 36-hole championship paying 50% and ties for each division.
Hawaii Prince GC pro Kalani Kiaaina came in second two-shots back with a two-day total of a 7-under-par (68-69) 137. Olomana Pro Norman-Ganin Asao (68-70-138) came in third place.
Iolani freshman and points leader for the Amateur Governors Cup team, Lorens Chan was low amateur carding a 72-67-139.
2006 senior champion Leland Lindsay (67-68-135) won the Senior Division sneaking past Casey Nakama (67-68-135), who just joined the senior ranks in August, by one shot. Champions Tour player Dave Eichelberger came in third with a (70-70-140).
Hawaii Prince Golf Club hosted the Prince Resorts Hawaii / TaylorMade Hawaii State Open Charity Pro-Am on Thursday, November 20th. This event was run by the Aloha Section PGA Foundation and is a charity Pro-Am event that benefited the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association (HSJGA) and the Aloha Section PGA Foundation.
The Pro-Am featured a professional purse and prizes for the amateurs.
The Aloha Section PGA also wants to thank corporate sponsor Continental Airlines.
FEHERTY WANTS TO BE A YANK?
We’ve got the Mercedes Benz Championship at Kapalua, the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, the Wendy’s Champions Skins at Kaanapali, and the SBS Open at Turtle Bay the first two months of this year with all of the hoopla that surrounds the opening of the PGA Tour, The Champions Tour champions only and the LPGA first stop and sometimes we forget one of the most important events of the year. It’s the Honda Pearl Open at the Pearl Country Club where we have had the pleasure to see some of the top performers on the world stage get their start, including the young man pictured above. No, that’s not Camilo Villegas but Ryo Ishikawa who apparently sees the benefit in “getting down” to the ball’s eye level. I hope he’ll be back this year.
Below, Trevor Immelman, just one of the stars you’ll enjoy watching at Kapalua’s Plantation course.
DARNED DUMB INJURIES
Adam Scott, one of the hot young golfers who turns out a crowd, won’t be at Kapalua’s Plantation course this Mercedes Benz Championship. Could be because of a number of “dumb” injuries he’s had. The most recent, a dislocated knee, kept him out of the Australian PGA Championship. The 28 year old hurt his right knee while running out of the surf a couple of weeks ago.
Scott told reporters from his Queensland, Australia home, he “just didn’t get enough time to recover from dislocating his knee cap.” The knee is still swollen and he can’t walk properly. As he put it, “I still can’t extend my leg fully – it’s not really the hitting that’s the problem, it’s the walking.” The last injury Scott recovered from was a broken bone in his hand. He closed the car door on it.
TOP STORIES OF 2008
We’ve each got our own idea of the best of last year.
Some people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to herald the rise of Anthony Kim, a friend of Kauai’s Casey Watabu, as the best of 2008. Others pointed to Lorena Ochoa becoming the top ranked player on the LPGA Tour. And not all of the top stories were good news stories.
Here’s how the poll turned out at Golf.com:
#10 All LPGA players must speak English or be suspended but then the Commissioner backed down
#9 51 year old Seve Ballesteros fighting brain cancer
#8 Tiger Woods wins four tournaments in a row
#7 Greg Norman contends at the 2008 British Open
#6 Annika Sorenstam “retires” from competitive golf
#5 Padraig Harrington wins two straight majors
#4 Rocco Mediate forces a playoff with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open
#3 Captain Paul Azinger leads the U.S. to victory at the Ryder Cup
#2 John Daly is found passed out in Winston-Salem and spends the night in jail
#1 Tiger Woods limps to a playoff victory at the U.S. Open, then has reconstructive surgery on his left knee and misses the rest of the season.
BUICK PULLS THE PLUG
Actually, Buick needs to figure a way to plug it’s fleet of vehicles in. Or run them on hydrogen or any other “green” fuel recipe they’ve had stashed in their “vaults” since the beginning of time.
But with the way the U.S. auto industry is going, Buick asked Tiger Woods to please let it out of the endorsement deal it has had with Woods for 9 years. There was only one year to go and Woods, in a statement, said he was happy to do so. That frees him up to spend more time with first child Sam and the one still on the way.
ANNIKA PULLS THE PLUG
Not quite. Annika Sorenstam will be designing golf courses, golf attire, golf swings with her staff at her golf Academy and following her other investments, in addition to getting married and starting a family. She just won’t be on the LPGA Tour, the European Ladies Tour, or any other “on the road” competitive event, in the foreseeable future. As she put it, she doesn’t like using the “R” word. And you probably thought she was done already. Well actually the last event on her schedule was in the middle of December at the Dubai Ladies Masters, where she had the lead and the headlines around the world of golf shouted “She’s Going Out on Top”. Well not quite. She hit a bumpy patch and shot a 75 and finished
ANOTHER “LOCAL” GIRL
The Turtle Bay Resort has Dorothy Delasin, Waikoloa has Cindy Rarick, Kapalua has Morgan Pressel and now Kaanapali has Kim Welch. Welch won the “Big Break Ka’anapali”, went on to finish in the top 10 of the 2008 Duramed Futures Tour and earned her playing privileges on the LPGA Tour in 2009. Ka’anapali will serve as her home course for the upcoming season and she’ll be seen in resort promotions.
I wonder if Michelle Wie will be playing for Ko Olina???????? Just a thought.
Speaking of “Touring Pro’s”, Hawaii has Parker McLachlin playing for Waikoloa and Hale Irwin played for Kapalua. Here you can see him playing for his son, Steve, in the Father/Son event at Champions Gate in Florida in early December.
But sometimes it was grandpa and grandson, like these two fellas in the picture below.
Who won? Larry Nelson and son Drew.
TOP GOLFER ACCORDING TO GOLF WRITERS
Padraig Harrington, Lorena Ochoa and Jay Haas have been named 2008 Players of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America. All three players will be honored at the GWAA's Annual Awards Dinner April 8, 2009 in Augusta, Ga.
This is Harrington's first GWAA Player of the Year award and ends a streak of three in row for Tiger Woods. Woods, who has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery following his U.S. Open win in June, had won the Player of the Year award nine of the last 11 years. It is the third consecutive award for both Ochoa and Haas.
Harrington received 184 votes to 58 for Woods and five for Vijay Singh. Ochoa received 232 votes to Paula Creamer's 13. Yani Tseng received three votes. Haas' margin in the Senior Player of the Year was the narrowest. He received 115 votes to 79 for Bernhard Langer. Eduardo Romero was third with 50 votes.
The Mercedes Benz Championship at Kapalua is January 8th to the 11th, not including the pre event fun that begins on the 5th. Get tickets through Kapalua.com or the gate.
The Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae is January 12th through the 18th. Get tickets at First Hawaiian Bank branches, at the gate and try to use the pubic transportation or share a ride. Parking is limited in Kahala neighborhoods.
The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai is scheduled for Jan. 19-25, 2009, and features an elite field of the past two seasons' tournament champions and senior major championship winners from the past five years. As part of the sponsorship agreement, Mitsubishi Electric will provide its Diamond Vision LED scoreboards at Hualalai, marking their first use on the Champions Tour. The PGA Tour has been using the scoreboards for years.
I hope to see you at all of these events. We’ll be broadcasting “The Golf Club” radio show from all of the events. Find out more through http://www.radiogolfclub.com/. Thanks for taking the time to check out the column and listen to my golf show.
Thank you to Avance Salon, Permanent Elegance, and Avi P. Cosmetics, Deb, Sharon, Gigi for all of their assistance getting us to these events in style. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Thank you for your Mana, and may you hit the sweet spot every time.
Aloha and keep those resolutions,