Michelle Wie at Kraft Nabisco & Tiger Woods at the Masters add drama to start Major Season
The best female golfers on the planet are having their first Major meeting of the year at the Kraft Nabisco in California and I can hear the buzz all the way across the country to the East Coast. Many stories abound with Annika Sorenstam trying once again for her announced goal of winning the women’s Grand Slam. And this, while fighting off the perceived challenge from young guns Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer. As good as these three are, it is Wie who brings the most buzz. Love her or hate her, everyone wants to see if she can jump the final hurdle and win in a tight match down the stretch. But these three and all the rest of the LPGA will have a way to go if they are going to outplay Sorenstam. Because when she is motivated and on form, there is no better female golfer in the world.
Tiger Woods started off this year wearing the leather off his shoes, he was kicking so much butt. It appeared as though he might become even more dominant than he was when he won his four straight Majors. But his father’s health has taken a turn for the worse and the unshakeable Tiger concentration has finally been shook. He’s been playing like a mere mortal in the Bay Hill Invitational and The Players Championship. Recently in a 60 Minutes interview, Tiger spoke at length about how his Dad, Earl Woods, was also his best friend. Quite a blow, it will be, when his Dad finally succumbs to his long illness. And what that does to the Masters is increase the likelihood of someone else putting on the green jacket. Amongst others, Retief Goosen is showing very good form of late and Ernie Els appears to be closing the gap from injured to top form again.
And while all of this is going on, my boys and I will be playing at the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama and catching the telecasts in the late afternoon. My God, does it get any better than this?
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It should be noted that Miss Sorenstam has a late tee off.
Did you notice the pairings?
Wie with Miyazato,
Sorenstam with Creamer.
On the mens side, I'm glad Padraig Harrington may just be getting his game into shape, with a good start at the Bell South Classic. I'd even take a win for him there, he really could do with the ranking points. His ranking position is not near where it should be.
I too think Tiger's concentration might lack a bit too much, for him to sustain it all the way through The Masters at this point.
I think the Goosen will challenge for probably all the majors, whether he will win is another question.
I wonder if Augusta is too soon for Ernie, perhaps, a later major for him.
Monty for the Masters, having just missed 4 cuts running, the longest cut missing stretch of his professional career. Monty will win the Masters, that's just golf!
31 out, 31 in.
5 birdies on each half of the course, 10 in total.
I thought Annika would surely come out well, but she is really struggling.
Only level after 13 holes, she could do with a decent last 5 holes of her round.
Creamer not much better at -1.
Pressel may be having a better tourney -2 after 7.
I think Wie is pretty confident at the moment, and I have a feeling she could take Ochoa if it comes down to that. Long way to go yet though.
Unfortunately I am not able to stay for the next three days which is rather a shame.
I flew in from Trinidad and Tobago yesterday and leave in the morning.
Just to set everyone straight Wie is as good as the hype. -6 on day one not bad considering she usually starts slow.
This could be the one we have been waiting for.
In light of Annika's emergence as the dominant player in the LPGA, I wonder if Tiger would put the kibosh on their joint practices. Due to the highly competitive nature of Tiger, I wouldn't be surprised if he no longer wishes to share his golf "secrets." As of now, Tiger has a lead on majors won, 10 to Annika's 9.
On a serious note, Annika seems to be struggling right now, and may need some brush up pointers from Tiger, pronto!
I will, however, admit that I am more optomistic for Michelle Wie than I would have been if it had been Annika up there at -10, but that is not a knock on Lorena, it is merely an expression of respect for Annika. For Wie fans, Lorena seems like she would be as tough up there as anyone not named Annika.
Michelle on the other hand historically does significantly better the second day. Significantly better than today could be quite low indeed. On the other hand, she will be facing the afternoon winds which tend to plague the late starters (as it did today.)
Looking forward to seeing what happens.
...I flew in from Trinidad and Tobago yesterday and leave in the morning.
Just to set everyone straight Wie is as good as the hype....
Good for you Alan, I hope Wie comes to East coast, I would like to see her play up close sometime.
Unfortunately it did not get much press. The problem is that most of the non-English speakingplayers and their coaches/parents don't think it's a problem; and the LPGA is trying to sidestep it due to being politically correct. The fact is that everyone looks bad when a player can't answer any questions posed by the media: the interviewer,the broadcaster, the LPGA (and its players), the ethnic community being represented by the player, the tournament directors, and the player herself. You can dress them up all you want but if the player can't communicate noone will be interested in cheering them on. And down goes the entertainment value of women's golf.
Chris Baldwin has spent quite a bit of time in the last while insulting Wie over her sparkly watch, and how she reacted when she was asked about it.
Well Chris Baldwin's own favour golfer, Paula Creamer did practically the same thing when asked about her Blackberry (personal organiser thing). She said "it's shiny" as she showed it, and the P on the back of it for Paula, and giggled. Just like Wie. She was just being a normal girl, just like Wie.
To add further insult to injury for Chris, Paula was asked about her rivalry with Annika. Paula stated that they were in 2 tournaments together this year and Annika beat her in Mexico, but Paula BEAT Annika when they played in Arizona. Yes, Paula actually said that she BEAT Annika in Arizona.
This claim by Paula backs up, us Wie Warriers, who have been rightly saying that when you place higher in a tournament than another player you have beaten them.
I am glad that Paula Creamer agrees with us Wie Warriers.
By the way, here is the web address for the Paula interview, because unlike Chris, I like to show the source of the claims:
Just click "Select Interviews Here" and scroll down to Wedneday and Paula Creamer's interview.
Ye snails and little catfish! The cut was plus 6 (It seems to me it should actually be plus 7 as there are four amateurs above the cut line and the cut is described as "top 70 professionals plus ties and amateurs" but it currently shows at 6 on the lpga website.) This course is playing way, way rough.
On #9 the dogleg shortens her first shot to the point she loses any advantage her length off the tee might give her.
On 11, the dogleg is subtle, but her normal drive would have to go over trees to a blind landing on the narrowest part of the fairway.
and 18? Fugitaboudit unless she is 1 stroke behind on Sunday...then maybe she'll go for it. But trying to get fancy on this hole is pure suicide.
So, in fact, she has capitalized on those that set up for her. And she has come close a couple of times on the ones that don't.
If Michelle can finish ahead of Annika in this tournament then she'd be up 3 to 1 in their last four meetings. Annika is the only top player with a winning record against Michelle (3-13).
Moving Day has arrived!
Hold on to your horses folks, everyone will be going for the flagsticks. Looks like we are in for a ride!
Things started off hot, then the wind started picking up (according to Weather.com) and nobody is going anywhere. Annika picked up two quick strokes and then stalled out. It looks like the course is starting to bite everybody...and you have no way to watch it for another hour and a half...
Curse, grumble, mumph.
Wind now gusting up to 28mph. Looks like we find out who can hang with the pack in bad weather.
-8 will be good enough to win this title.
Pressel indeed is doing better today. Guilbis is another one. Creamer is out to +6 for the round after just 11 holes. That could be quite a high score.
From what I have seen, Michelle played somewhere around her B+ game today and is still hanging in second.
Gulbis, Ahn or Lee could also catch fire and make some noise. Tomorrow should not lack for drama.
Just a devilishly hard course. Playing consistently at 2 over par.
Bivens couldn't ask for much better.
But a lot of golf to go. Nobody else is going really low, Pat Hurst is low round so far at -3 through 9. Plenty of opportunity for the course to rise up and bite either or both of the leaders.
I still think -8 will probably be good enough. I expect an Ochoa wobble at some point. Morgan Pressel could tell her that there are treble bogies out there. Paula Creamer could tell her that there are many bogies to be had, 3 in first 4 holes again for Paula.
Thanks for the weather report. Some of us don't even have delayed coverage of the tournament.
Excellent comment about the grouping of Wie, Ochoa and Guilbis.
Wie delivered, but unfortunately I was out by 1, in my prediction of the winnnig score.
If Wie had the luck of Webb, she could be a major winner. Quite often tournaments get won by just a little bit of luck at the right time, just the bounce of a golf ball.
Sigh. Wie did us Wie-warriers very proud indeed.
Magnificent recovery from disaster for Karrie Webb with a 'bit-o-luck' at just the right time and the courage to go for it in the shoot-out. I hope the young-uns had their notebooks out.
Too bad Ochoa couldn't pull off the play-off. She had a similar lie to Wie's off the 18th green (though a little farther). Wie tried wedge and Ochoa putter, both with the same result.
A hall-of-fame golfer who turned professional the year you first picked up a golf club, a former World #1 makes up 7 shots in the final round and eagles out.
You have a choice, risk it all on ending it right here, or play safe and have to face her in a shootout. If Michelle thought the wedge gave her the best chance to end it right there, then it was the champion's choice, the gutsy move...she didn't pull it off and she faced the consequences with no excuses. But it was the right choice for her.
Ochoa faced Webb in the shootout, had the same "tremendous length advantage" that Michelle supposedly had. Ochoa lost.
Still think trying to close it right there was "stupid?"
Likewise, I did not call Michelle a champion, I said she made the choice that a champion would make. She thought her best chance of victory was to close it with an eagle and walk away.
It didn't work...but I still say it was the choice that a champion would make.
Michelle has twice the game, distance, shotmaking and ability then any woman on tour, including Annika and she just seems to find a way to lose.
Actually I disagree with you there. Which of us is the Wie fan here? I think you are completely misreading Wie's ability.
She is a very good player, even at her young age, but she does not have twice the anything of Annika. In fact, Annika is still better than Michelle at nearly every aspect of the game.
John, first of all Michelle is not a champion, unless you're going to count the Jennie K. Wilson championship when she was 10.
Actually she won the US Amateur Publinx Adult tournament at 13 years of age.
Just for the record Michelle would have a huge advantage over Karrie in a playoff on 18 with her length and should have given herself the best chance to win, which was to get into the playoff, not try to pull off an incredibly low percentage shot.
You are again mistaking the length advantage.
Firstly, just because it is a par 5, doesn't mean Michelle has an advantage. Maybe the hole isn't set up in a way suited to her game.
Next, over the four days Wie parred that hole on each occasion. Webb had a birdie and an eagle there, and again birdied it in the playoff, so Webb certainly had the advantage there.
That is what makes Tiger Woods so amazing: he has the shotmaking, power, feel, shortgame, creativity and artistry all wrapped up in one guy and that is simply super rare: most of the time players are one dimensionsal: good long hitters, with average/poor short game; or vice versa. Michelle Wie from the early signs is a one dimensional player (shotmaker, long hitter) with average/poor short game. If this remains, she will quite simply never get to dominate the Women's game. She may have a win or two, but not at the winning rate as Annika. At this stage of her career, I would suggest her to make friends with Tiger just like Annika did; and give up the range for a while.
Norman we can talk around the issue all you like, but the fact remains that Michelle needed birdie on the final hole and should have gotten it, just like she should have made birdie on that hole all week. You are supposed to be a world-class golfer, you know in your heart that she has more game then the other women out there. She has a decided power advantage, she spins the ball like a man, and she can work the ball better then all of them, including Annika. Is her game as polished as Annika's, of course not, but you know as well as I do that she has more game.
why should Michelle have got birdie on this hole, on any day? Why shouldn't Annika have got many more birdies in the tournament, or maybe some less bogies? You are basing your comments on a bias against Michelle and not taking anyone else into account.
Wie put herself in contention to win the tournament, and most certainly did not falter down the stretch.
Annika was 6 shots behind her.
Morgan Pressel was 9 shots behind her.
Paula Creamer was 13 shots behind her.
All of these are extremely talented players.
Annika is a much better player than Michelle, but I don't believe you have attacked her performance.
Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel have a disadvantage as regards length, but Morgan Pressel certainly has alot of amateur experience and success, success which we were told would bring immediate lpga success. It hasn't turned out that way.
As I learned the hard way, being an amateur champion means very little when you turn professional.
As regards Creamer, she is a proven winner on the lpga tour, having won twice last year, one of those, a very large thumping of the field at the Evian Masters. Should Paula not be performing better, than 14 shots off the lead?
I like Paula Creamer, and I think she will succeed again, and I do think she will win majors, although maybe not for another while. I am not putting down her performance in any way, because she will have many more chances. I am simply using her, as an example of the hypocricy of the anti-Wie brigade.
On your assertion, that Wie is this sort of super talented wonderwoman, who is far better than anyone else and should be beating fields easily, I simply don't buy that.
Maybe she will be that sort of player at some stage, but you need to get a grip on reality. She is 16 years old and a very talented girl, but not up to the level that you insist she is at.
Also on the winning thing, she has had very few chances to win.
She plays a very limited schedule.
In my opinion if she played 25 tournament this season, she would probably win about 4, but given that she plays one every now and again, two 3rd place finishes, and not only that, but two finishes, just 1 shot behind the leader, are amazing.
Liam over estimates Michelle a little and hc2 completely underestimates her.
hc2, decided to list some bad shots that Michelle played on the 12th and the 14th.
He failed to mention of course, her birdies on 7 and 9.
More importantly he failed to mention, that when there were 3 of them level at -7, Michelle hit a beautiful approach shot on hole 16 to give her a couple of feet for birdie.
That shot was enough to put her back in the lead, but then Karrie got lucky, with an eagle to go to -9.
Also, hc2 failed to mention that Michelle played an excellent lag putt on 17, when she was 40 feet from the hole.
Also, hc2 failed to mention that Michelle's 2nd shot on 18 was a couple of feet from being perfect and the ball would have naturally went towards the hole.
Also, hc2 failed to mention, that for Michelle's 3rd shot on 18, Ochoa had a similar shot in the playoff and she putted it, and ended up 18 feet from the hole, and missed her putt as well.
Also on the winning thing, she has had very few chances to win.
She plays a very limited schedule.
In my opinion if she played 25 tournament this season, she would probably win about 4, but given that she plays one every now and again, two 3rd place finishes, and not only that, but two finishes, just 1 shot behind the leader, are amazing."
You forgot to mention Norman that out of her limited exemptions she will infact play all of the top tournaments Women's golf has to offer. She doesn't duck the competition and tees it up with the best women golfers in the world.
Karrie played a round we have not seen from her in many years and with a little luck thrown into the mix earned the win. The youngsters are reinvigorating the game of some World Golf Hall of Fame Members. Julie and now Karrie have stepped up to the challenge and not rolled over in the end. This is great for the game.
Com'on now. You are just trying to ignore the obvious fact. Whenever Michelle has a putt with more than four feet from the hole; or has a semidifficult shot in the rough or sand, everyone shakes including Michelle, the fans and the commentarists. She is a one dimensional player and seems like will be for a long time to come. As I said earlier, if she putted average, and if she was more of a clutch player she should have won this thing by five or six shots at least. It should have been a runaway because her shotmaking is way superior than 95-99.9% of the LPGA players. She had numerous putts within 12 feet; and hardly made any of them. That goes back to what I am saying: she is extremely good in one aspect of the game, and mediocre in the other. I am just being plain objective and nothing more. The thing is putting, short game, and clutch play down the stretch is more about artistry than just mechanics; and right now Michelle is not an artist on the golf course.
Funny, I seem to recall that her competitors in the men's publinx were all praise with her short game. Same with her playing partners at last year's John Deere Classic. You don't consistently contend in majors with a one dimensional game.
I don't get it. Why are so many people critisizing Wie on the path she is taking. Some say she needs to "learn how to win", then there are some who says she needs to win on Women's tour before competing with men etc.
And what is wrong with getting multimillion $ endorsement deals ? This is a capitalism world and that is how you play the game.
It is her life and her decision to make. Don't give 'advice' to others unless being asked for...
She will not win any awards for her public speaking, she won't graduate from Stanford with a degree in astrophysics, and, despite the fervent hopes of her ardent admirers, she definitely WILL NEVER win a PGA tournament.
She may not win an award for public speaking, but she will be paid very well to speak publicly and the audience will listen to what she has to say.
She may not major in “Astrophysics”, but she will earn a degree in some discipline sooner or later and perhaps later an MBA to help her manage her growing empire.
She may not win a PGA event, but she will rewrite the history of women in golf for many years in the future and leave a lot of men behind her in the field along the way.
The Prophet Alex of course was President of his local Toastmasters and high school Debate Team at sixteen.
Finishing no worse than third in the first two events she played on the LPGA tour this year is another fact.
An estimated 12 to 15 million dollars in endorsement contracts and appearance fees for the past six months is not disbuted.
A seventy-five percent increase in broadcast viewers of LPGA events she enters and an average of a thirty-five percent increase in attendance at events with Michelle in the field is well documented.
Ranking second on the World ROLEX Rankings was not an accident, but a confirmation of her talent and consistency of play.
I would say this sixteen year old is well on her way to confirming what I stated.
Now Alex what don't you understand about the statement "perhaps later"?
The NPP is reserved for the Jimmy Carters' of the World and Michelle would not qualify. She is not evil enough.
As an MBA graduate I know exactly what it takes to hold the degree Alex and it ain't Rocket Science.
Tiger Woods is married and unable to return your love for him Alex. Give it up now before your heart breaks more.
Of course I am patient enough to wait fourteen years before I compare accomplishments between players.
Do you still have your Farah poster next to the prized print of the dogs playing poker?
Wie critics hold Michelle to a different standard than Tiger at the same age. Why is that? I don't think any of you would have expected Tiger to win a Pro event at 16. Yet you (as a group) consider Michelle's accomplishments a failure because she hasn't won.
That is truly a demented form of logic to support any argument.
I look at Michelle's game and see potential for greatness in the future, while all you can see is failure in the present.
At the Fields she tied for first in greens hit in regulation and at the Kraft she was in first place alone. During her second round performance at the Sony she tied for hitting the most greens in regulation that day.
Tee to green is what keeps Michelle in her matches and then she gives it all away with her putter. That is why she pulled a wedge on the final hole of the Kraft, it was a club she had more confidence in to hole out or put it close.
Presently she is averaging two to three putts plus per round higher over the gals who win. That is eight to twelve shots she gives back to the field in every four round tournament. When Michelle can get to the 27 to 28 PPR level she will be unbeatable on the ladies tour. If she doesn't, I don't expect her to win unless the rest of the field gives it to her.
Will Michelle win on the PGA tour? It is highly unlikely for the same reason above....putting. That is what separates the good golfer from the great one.
Michelle would do well adding Dave to her team. Maybe you noticed Phil had him in tow at the Masters.
I do agree that Wie needs putting help. But it would be hard to believe that she hasn't already gotten good instruction from someone.