Thursday, July 13, 2006
OK, I've seen enough. Stop the fight. No mas! No mas!
In case you missed it, Michelle Wie shot 77 in the first round of the John Deere Classic, leaving her 13 strokes off the early lead. So forget the talk of her becoming the first woman to make the cut in a PGA Tour event in 61 years. Forget the talk of her earning her PGA Tour card any time soon.
After the misery of tomorrow's second round is behind her, Wie should turn her attention toward winning a tournament on the LPGA Tour. Other than in her classroom at school, or maybe the mall with her friends, the LPGA is where she ought to be -- at least for now.
And now, for the post round interview:
Q: We thank Michelle Wie for stopping in after a 6 over 77 in today's first round
of the John Deere Classic. I know it's not the start you hoped for today. First couple holes
you had a couple balls go right off the tee it seemed today.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. I mean, it was very uncharacteristic of me to do that, but I felt like
considering that I had the water hazard penalties, considering that I had to call
unplayable, considering that I hit my driver like 50 yards right, I felt like I played
really well. I felt like I made a lot of great up and downs, I felt like I putted great, my
irons were good.
You know, on the last couple holes during the back nine, I felt like my driver was working
very well. I feel like I have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.
Q: Looks like you shook off that front nine on the back there. Tell us what was
the change from the front to back?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I just changed my posture a little bit and tweaked around a little
bit, played around with my shots. It couldn't get any worse, so I just played around with
it. Luckily it worked, so I'll keep that same mentality going for tomorrow.
Q. That bug on the second tee kind of seemed to get to you a little bit.
MICHELLE WIE: I mean, literally I had like five of them on me. As soon as I got on the ball
I mean, it's okay if the bugs are like around the ball, I can handle that. But they were
crawling on my arm, they were on my hand, they were on my head. I mean, it was just
ridiculous. I had to step back like five times. It was just very unfortunate.
Q. Did that kind of throw you off, your concentration?
MICHELLE WIE: I would like to say it didn't, but it bothered me a little bit. Bugs on me, I
hate bugs, and I was starting to get a little aggravated like the fifth time I stepped out.
I was a little aggravated, but I felt like I shook it off. Obviously I didn't hit that tee
shot the way I wanted to, but I don't think it was because of the bugs.
Q. How were you feeling physically today as far as coming into the round? Were you tired at
all and did you have any aches and pains or anything during the round?
MICHELLE WIE: No, I felt pretty good. It was very hot out there. I'm not really used to
wearing long pants in the heat, but it was okay. I mean, obviously there's a lot of hills on
this golf course, but I didn't really feel tired. I was sweating a lot out there, but I felt
like I hydrated myself very well when I had to, and I kept my energy level up all around.
Q. Last year after the first round you were 1 under. Just talk about how disappointing I
guess it is for you to be where you are now compared to where you were at this time last
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I didn't make the cut shooting 1 under on the first round, so maybe
shooting 6 over might do it (laughter).
Q. Where you were in the Sony Open after the first round, 79, you came back pretty well. Can you do that again here tomorrow, and if you do, are you going to the last four or five holes
thinking, hey, maybe I can make the cut?
MICHELLE WIE: Definitely. I feel like I have a really good round in me. I feel like if I hit
the fairways more, if I was in the fairway I could have shot a lot under par. I felt like my
irons are really good right now, my putting feels really good, and I really feel like I can
do it. I feel really motivated to do it.
Q. Talk about 16 if you would, that terrific birdie and the gallery goes nuts. Can you kind
of feel the excitement build?
MICHELLE WIE: It was pretty amazing after I made that chip. The applause was really loud.
That's why I play, to have those moments. It's so wonderful, you can't really put it in
words. You just feel really good. That's why I'm doing this, to feel those moments.
Q. After the thing with the bugs, you went off to the right a couple times, then you went
off to the left a couple times. Did you overcompensate do you think?
MICHELLE WIE: No. I mean, I think it's very natural to compensate maybe or overcompensate.
Like I said, I played around with it, but eventually it went straight, so that was a
Q. Early, the first 30 minutes, 60 minutes, the swing was off a little bit, the right shots
that he talked about. Is that nerves or is that just one of the days of golf?
MICHELLE WIE: No, it was just my evil twin sister playing (laughter).
Q. What's it like for you playing with so much attention being paid to everything you do?
MICHELLE WIE: I like it. I mean, I'm very grateful for it. I think that if I didn't have
these fans, if I didn't have the critics, it wouldn't be as much fun. All these people
rooting for you, it's just wonderful. I love it.
Q. There was a minor issue with your hip yesterday. Did that get worked out and was that at
all a problem today?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was a little hurting, you know. I went to the trailer here, and they
were really wonderful to help me out, and I went in yesterday and I went in this morning,
and it feels really good right now, so I'm good.
Q. Do you know what kind of bugs they were on the second hole, and were you nervous that
they might be a bee?
MICHELLE WIE: No, they were not a bee. They were pretty big, though, and they don't want those bugs do not want me to find out what kind of bugs they were, because I am going to go
out and kill them. I'm calling the exterminator tomorrow (laughter).
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
In the days since Tim "The Undertaker" Finchem unveiled the details of the FedEx Cup beginning in 2007, more than a few columnists have been underwhelmed. Scott Michaux from the Augusta Chronicle dissed the PGA Tour commish as a "corporate drone."
But in his weekly column, AP golf writer Doug Ferguson points the finger of blame -- or credit, depending on your view -- at the game's two biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both of whom wanted a shorter season.
For the details, click here.
Now comes news that Miller bolted Newport Country Club after Sunday's night fourth round to return home to California to console his wife, Linda, because of news their nephew, a 24-year-old senior at BYU, had been killed in a climbing accident in Peru.
The nephew, Brennan Larson, who had missing since June 28, was one of three climbers whose bodies were found July 2 at the bottom of a 100-foot crevasse at Artesonraju Peak.
"The bottom line is that I could have done (the Monday telecast)," Miller told Golf Week magazine. "But I was feeling sort of screws up, to be honest with you."
Miller also said that with LPGA veteran Dottie Pepper in the booth that day, the play-off was in good hands.
Here are some excerpts from here pre-tournament press conference. It starts boring but gets better as it goes on.
Q. At this stage in your career, would you consider it a bigger accomplishment to win an LPGA event or make the cut on the PGA TOUR?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I'll tell you after I do both (laughter).
Q. What do you have to say to the young females that you've captivated? You've got a lot of following out here. What do you have to say about being a role model for so many young women out there?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I don't know if I'm a role model, but I think it's awesome that more and more young girls are starting to play the game. I just think that if golf is really what you want to do, then do what you want to do. You don't really have to follow any, I guess, rules. You don't have to do what other people do. They don't actually have to follow my footsteps, they just have to do what they want to do.
Q. Kind of a follow up on the role model question, there's a youth golf clinic out there today. What would be some of your advice for young kids that want to be serious about pursuing golf as a career?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, they're just kids. I mean, one day you want to be an astronaut and another day you want to be a firefighter. You never know what you want to do with your life. Golf is just a game. Enjoy it. I mean, I think kids should really start getting serious when they're in their teens. I mean, when they're kids, go out and have some fun, play with your friends. That's what I did, too. I mean, obviously when you're getting serious playing the junior tournaments, obviously that's when you have to practice.
I mean, golf is still a game. You just have to have fun. I don't think you should see golf as a career. I don't see golf as a career for me, it's just a game.
Q. How much has your game changed from when you were here last year until now?
MICHELLE WIE: Hopefully I've gotten better. I think I've gotten a lot more consistent. My putting feels pretty good, and I've been working a lot on my swing, consistency of my game, and hopefully I've become a little bit more mature than last year.
Q. People have said that they expect you or anticipate you to make the cut this year, whereas last year it might have been a pleasant surprise. Do you feel a shift in expectations this year?
MICHELLE WIE: A lot of people have expectations of me and I have my own expectations of what I want to do or accomplish. I'm not going to think about this the cut this year. I really want to play well and maybe go to the British Open. If I go to the British Open, then I've made the cut (laughter).
Q. Earlier today Sean said that he thinks you're extremely talented and that you definitely belong here, but he said he thought you should win a tournament on the LPGA Tour before coming here. How do you respond to that?
MICHELLE WIE: It's not like I'm a full time member of the LPGA or a full time member of the PGA. I'm just still trying to figure out what I want to do and doing what I want to do, and obviously I want to win an LPGA tournament and I want to play in PGA tournaments. I feel like I'm having a really good balance right now of playing men's events and women's events, and I know that a win on an LPGA event will come. I just want to do what I want to do, and that's always been my kind of motto. I'm just going to do what I want to do and not really follow anything.
Q. You finished in the Top 5 in five of the last six majors on the LPGA Tour. What have you taken from those experiences that you feel eventually will help you reach your goal of winning on the LPGA Tour?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I've been really I really had a chance to win in every single one of those majors, and I feel like every single time I'm learning how to win. I'm learning how to handle that kind of like last round pressure going into the last couple of holes, and I feel like it really showed at the U.S. Open where I really felt like I made some smart moves. I made pars, even though you never really know in a U.S. Open, and I felt like I played really smart.
I learned a lot from the majors, from the Kraft. I learned a lot in the McDonald's and the British Open. It's just being able to go in the last couple of holes, being able to win, I think it's an amazing thing.
Q. Whenever you look back on John Deere last year, do you feel like you let one get away, or do you learn something from the specific experience of being 3 over on the two holes on your back nine? Do you reflect what you might have done differently?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've thought about it and then I forgot about it. I made a couple of bad decisions coming into the final holes, but I was only 15. I can make mistakes when I'm 15. Hopefully I learned a lot from those mistakes that I made last year, and hopefully I won't do them this year.
Q. Brittany Lincicome made some comments, one of them being about how you didn't talk during the round. When you're in match play, is it different? Do you have a different attitude? Can you talk a little bit about that?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, it's a lot different in match play than stroke play. I feel like you just have to be I mean, I don't talk when I'm in match play. I just try to focus on my own game, and it's very different. It's a lot more intense in match play than stroke play. I mean, in stroke play you just go around, but in match play you have to win or you're not going to play the next day, so I become a lot more intense.
Q. Do you have a preference right now between the PGA TOUR and the LPGA?
MICHELLE WIE: No, I don't really have a preference. I really enjoy playing the LPGA and I really enjoy playing the PGA and I really enjoy playing in Asia and Europe. I love going all over and playing and I don't really have a favorite.
Q. Do you sense that expectations have kind of been ratcheted up outside of your own circle, people disappointed that you haven't broken through yet? Has that affected your confidence at all?
MICHELLE WIE: No. I mean, obviously people are going to have expectations. I can't please everyone. I'm just out here for myself, and my parents still love me even though I don't win tournaments (laughter). It's great.
I mean, I have my own expectations. Obviously I was a little disappointed after not really obviously when you're done after the round, you wish you could have done a couple shots better, but it has nothing to do with kind of making me less confident about my game because I still feel like I'm playing really solid.
It's very hard to win when you're playing one tournament, then take a month off. This summer I've been playing every week, so hopefully I can play a lot better, but it's hard when you don't have that momentum going into every week. People's expectations are going to go up, it's natural. But I just feel like I'm playing very well right now, playing very solid, and it's going to happen.
Q. Michelle, you're the star of the show. I mean, the reason that people are buying tickets this week is to come see this, and you're just 16. How do you avoid being overwhelmed by kind of all the attention that you get on weeks like this?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I mean, I don't really think about it, you know. I guess being from Hawaii, being very relaxed, I just have kind of a "whatever" mentality. I just have fun with it. I'm very grateful and I feel very lucky that people like watching me play, and I have a lot of fans. I think that's wonderful. But I don't really take it as kind of a hard thing; I just look at it and have fun and just play golf.
Q. What kind of music do you like and how many pairs of sunglasses do you own?
MICHELLE WIE: Sunglasses (laughing). I really like alternative music. I'm really into like Korean music these days and alternative, just whatever songs are on MTV. I really like the Black Eyed Peas and Bon Jovi.
How many pairs of sunglasses? A lot, actually (laughter). Nike is making a lot of new sunglasses. Like if you've seen me wear sunglasses, I like to wear them on the golf course, and they're making a lot of casual sunglasses, too, which is really cool. I just like to go shopping, so I get a lot.
Q. Growing up, who did you look to as inspiration for you to try to compete against men? I know your parents were huge role models for you, but were there one or two people, females, that you looked up to?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, Babe, I really looked up to her, and Mickey Wright, obviously I learned about them as I was playing golf, but I think they were great. Obviously Mia Hamm, I really look up to her. She's a great role model. Obviously Tiger Woods, I really look up to him. He really makes me want to crank the ball. He just crushes it. It's amazing to watch.
Q. On Friday, and I know your parents are here, so who's going to know first you make it through the cut, okay. Last year you failed, but this year you make it. If you make it, who are you going to call to let them know first?
MICHELLE WIE: Who am I going to call first? Well, obviously my friends back home. I don't really call anyone after I play well. My friends don't care actually (laughter), so I don't know why I call them. I'll call them and be like, "Hey, I just made the cut." They'll be like, "You just made what? What's the cut?" They don't care.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
It was a year ago this week that Sean O'Hair,PGA Tour rookie from West Chester, won his first tournament, the John Deere Classic.
As he prepares to defend his titlle, here are excerpts from O'Hair's pre-tourhament interview on Tuesday.
Q. Last year coming in here you talked about you were kind of struggling coming in and I think you went to the borders or Barnes & Noble and bought some
books. Anything similar this year, are you searching for anything?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, it's actually the exact opposite. I think the goal for me this week, I'm playing so well and I'm hitting the ball so well, just not to put
the pressure on myself to try and make something happen. My game is about as good as it's been all year. I'll actually excited. I'm just going to go out and
have fun, and hopefully the results fall in my lap.
Q. You've mentioned at times having to deal with distractions, especially earlier in the year. Are those having to do with being the Rookie of the Year and a
first time winner?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I put a lot of distractions on myself as far as the expectation level and what I did last year and trying to out do it this year, instead
of just focusing on what I need to focus on, which is improving my game and just going about my routines and stuff like that. I was going out to each
tournament trying to win. Not saying that I'm not trying to win every event, but there's a certain way to go about it, and for me it's just a matter of going
about the process instead of worrying about the results, and whenever I worry about results, I tend to put a little too much pressure on myself.
That's kind of what the goal is this week. You know, playing so well, you can kind of get in a frame of mind of, well, I should do this or I should do that,
and the expectation level kind of goes sky high. I think for me right now, I'm just going to try to get the expectation level down so I can just go out and
play and enjoy it because my game is there, it's just a matter of doing it.
Q. Did something click in the last month or so?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I've been working really, really hard. I got a new coach obviously at Doral, and our communication has been phenomenal since Doral.
I've been learning about my swing and what makes my swing work and what my tendencies are, and I just think this past month has kind of been a byproduct of a
lot of hard work and good communication on the team.
I had a new guy on the bag last week, and that worked out well. I'm just trying to build a team and kind of get my game going a little bit so I can kind of
get in a routine of hopefully at the end of the year I'll be contending more and more because I haven't really done it much this year.
Q. Who is the teacher?
SEAN O'HAIR: Gary Gilchrist.
Q. Why the change?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think with a teacher a lot of things have to mesh, you know, communication, time that you're able to spend with him, understanding what he's
teaching, and that just clicked better with Gary. That's why I changed. (Translation: Leadbetter has hitched his start to Michelle Wie, prompting other clients to complain they get no time).
Q. Last year was like a big breakthrough, big emotional breakthrough and golfing breakthrough. Has that had the momentum to carry through for a while, and
what have you done to replace it? It's been a year.
SEAN O'HAIR: You mean the momentum?
SEAN O'HAIR: Momentum is great. You try to ride it out whenever you can, whenever you've got it. I think at the beginning of this year, like I said, with all
the expectation level and everything that results weren't there, and so the momentum was actually the opposite; I was more in a rut and I was trying to fight
my way out of it. I've been in a lot of ruts in my career and I'm used to working my way out of it.
I wasn't concerned about it at all, and now I'm starting to see the results of a lot of hard work, like I said, so you know, whenever you're playing well,
you just try to ride it out, and when you're playing bad, you just try to ride it out. That's the funny thing about this game is that you're going to have
your good spurts and you're going to have your bad spurts. I'm just kind of going from there.
Q. How many caddies have you had since changing from Steve?
SEAN O'HAIR: Just Bobby Verwey and then a guy this week, David Brooker.
Q. Do you know who he's been with?
SEAN O'HAIR: Grace Park for the last four years, five years.
Q. What's been your mindset coming in as a defending champion?
SEAN O'HAIR: You mean what's my strategy? Just go out and make a lot of birdies. I guess my goal at the beginning of the year was to hopefully be peaking at
this time because obviously next week is the British, and I'd like to start contending for majors. I think I played well in the U.S. Open, but that's really
the only major I've played well in. I just kind of wanted to peak at this time because this is my kind of time where I start playing well, and my game right
now is as good as it's been. It's kind of, I guess, the goal I've accomplished the goal, now it's just a matter of getting out of my own way and just
playing. Like I said, hopefully the results fall in my lap.
Q. Did you make changes with Gary?
SEAN O'HAIR: Swing changes?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, a little bit here and there. Early in the year I was trying to rotate the club on plane going back early in the year, and that just is not
for me. I was taught to keep the face a little more square, and that's kind of what we've been working on, just trying to keep the club square and keep the
club in front of me and work on my release, releasing under instead of around.
I was trying to flatten out things early in the year, and that's just not for me. I learned quickly that that's not what my swing is all about, so I'm going
with what works for me. I've been hitting the ball better than I have my whole career. And I've done it more consistently, I mean, every day, for the past
six weeks I've been hitting it pure.
I've played fairly well in every event except for the Hartford, which I kind of had some caddie issues at the Hartford. It's just a matter of putting and
getting my head out of my out of the way (laughter).
Q. You talked about wanting to contend a little bit more in majors. How much do you know about the two venues that are going to host the two remaining venues
this year, and being in Chicago last week did you go over and see Medinah?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, I didn't. I know nothing about them. I'm very much looking forward to the British. It's my favorite, to be honest with you. It's what golf
should be about, and it's about hitting shots, hitting low shots, hitting high shots, hitting different clubs. I'm pretty excited about it.
I've heard it's a fairly flat golf course. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I've heard. Certainly if the wind gets up, it's going to be
just a typical British Open, so I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Are you a year older and wiser in a sense, given what your last year has been, things that you experienced that you otherwise wouldn't have being a
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I feel like a better player in general. Do I feel older? I was actually looking at some pictures with my wife when I was home last, and I
actually look younger in the pictures, and that was kind of a scary thought. You know, thank God I'm not Zach's age (laughter). He's getting over the hill.
But I'm getting there.
Personally, I think it's a smart move. Faldo, a sourpuss to the media and fans during his playing career, has taken great pains to take the wraps of his wit and likeabilty since jumping to TV.
For the full press release from the Golf Channel, click here.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Once of the harshest critics is Scott Michaux of the Augusta Chronicle, home of the Masters. A few highlights from Michaux's stinging indictment of the whole concept of the cup and of Finchmen, who he dismisses as a "corporate drone:"
It is difficult to swallow, much less stomach.
What I'm talking about is PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's undigestible contrivance coming in 2007 dubbed - depending on your threshold for corporate jargon - the FedEx Cup or Finchem's Folly.
A couple of weeks ago, Finchem unveiled the hardly anticipated FedEx Cup Evaluation system, which heretofore will be referred to by its acronym, FECES.
Without boring you in excruciating Finchemesque fashion with any of the details you already don't care about, it is just another list attempting to quantify the relative values of professional golfers in a cluttered landscape that already includes an official world ranking, money winnings, orders of merit, various international team standings, etc.
The only thing that makes the FECES curiously different is the PGA Tour's transparent attempt to mathematically equate its Players Championship with the universally acclaimed four major championships.
Finchem's goal with this whole FECES thing is to create a "playoff-like" finish to his laudably truncated PGA Tour season. Through the first 36 events of the season, the roughly 240 players who start the year with some semblance of official status will be whittled all the way down to 144 lucky few who qualify for a four-week, no-tee-times-barred, battle royale culminating at the Tour Championship at East Lake. For getting hot at just the right time, Finchem will reward $10 million to the man who, in essence, turns out to be the glorified player of the month.
When the FECES hits the fans, will anyone care other than the individual who'll get to fortify his already lucrative retirement portfolio?
Finchem believes he created some kind of excitement that will compare to NASCAR's season-ending chase for its championship or the NFL's compelling buildup to the Super Bowl. Instead he's done nothing but give birth to another flawed BCS concept that ultimately won't resolve anything. He's tried to rationale his baby with another postseason analogy about a 105-win Yankees team having to start over in October, but those Yankees wouldn't have to start over against the last-place Royals.
If this were the only thing that Finchem had overdone in his tenure as commissioner of the PGA Tour, it would be almost excusable. But seeing as he's callously dismantled or neutered some golfing traditions that have been around for more than a century in the process, shackled the tour to the ultra-fringe Golf Channel for an astonishing 15 years and stepped on the toes of every other worldwide golfing entity with his avarice, Finchem's Folly loses any benefit of the doubt.
Finchem is a corporate drone who believes everything is better based upon money. If the Players pays more money than the Masters Tournament, it must be better. If The Golf Channel is willing to pay you more money over the course of 15 years than ESPN would have for the next four, it must be better.
That's why Finchem believes he's doing a good job, because the players he (with one whopper of an assist by Tiger Woods) made rich and spoiled gave him a $27 million contract extension.
More money, however, hasn't made the PGA Tour better. It's made it worse. Extra zeroes only add to the numbing. If you really want to see the best players on the PGA Tour going head-to-head more often, start paying them what they were making back in the '80s and early '90s - when making a million dollars was a season's work for the hardest workers who performed the best instead of a week's salary for a tournament winner or the median annual income for finishing in the top 150.
Just how much of Finchem's decision-making is based upon money? Consider that the only way the nearly 70-year-old event in Greensboro, N.C., was spared the cutting block was because it ponied up $500,000 to agent Mark Steinberg - just to be granted an audience with Finchem in order to make its case.
That was not a benefit granted to, say, the 102-year-old Canadian Open, which was rendered all but obsolete with an untenable date between the British Open and PGA. Or the Western Open, which will be stripped of its venerable title and relegated to semi-annual visits to the Chicago area. Or the tournament outside Washington D.C., which was shut out of the regular season because FedEx attracted favoritism to its Memphis, Tenn., event. Or the Disney Classic and 84-year-old Texas Open, which were all but dismissed without any more dialogue than a curt "thanks for coming."
Not that the overly fattened PGA Tour season couldn't use a little trimming, but Finchem handled the whole process badly.
Finchem constantly displays an arrogant disregard for everything in golf outside of his own tunnel vision. Who cares if the new tour schedule will gut the European Tour's prime events during the spring and late summer? Who cares if its big announcements distract the attention from the LPGA Tour's most important event? Who cares if none of the so-called World Golf Championship events are played in front of audiences outside the United States?
Finchem has unilaterally constructed the PGA Tour to fit his vision. Thank goodness he has no control over any of the major championships, meaning the most important historical results of the year will never be sullied by an inadequate TPC venue or distasteful title sponsorship.
At least that knowledge can settle the uneasiness in the stomachs of the constituents who really matter - the golf fans.