Michelle Wie’s U.S. Open Chances Are Fading, But Not Totally Gone

wie-michelle-140628The defending U.S. Women’s Open champion launched a big tee shot off the 15th tee here Saturday and then practically staggered back to her bag.

If Michelle Wie’s defense of her Open title comes up short Sunday, and it looks like it might unless she shoots a low, low number, she will certainly know why. There’s a painful hip, which caused her to narrow her stance and alter her swing a month ago; a sore ankle that she’s wearing a large black brace on; and her putting.

Wie, the biggest name in women’s golf, lost at least three strokes on the greens Saturday, otherwise her presence on the leaderboard at Lancaster Country Club might be considerably more imposing. Instead, she posted her second straight 68 and finished at 208, 2-under par. She’s six strokes off the lead, held by Amy Yang.

Wie’s day may have been summarized by the way she played the 16th hole, a par-4. After a nice drive, she hit a mediocre iron shot, left her birdie putt four feet short and left her par putt three inches short with a tentative stroke.

That is not how you win a U.S. Open and Wie knows it all too well. She had three bogeys on the front nine. She may have squandered her chance today and left too much ground to make up. Then again, plenty can happen in 18 holes.

“I knew I had to post a low number today, which is a little frustrating,” Wie said. “Those bogeys are precious, you can’t make bogeys out here. I’m grateful that I have a chance so I’m going to try to do as much as I can with it.”

She is obviously hurting and limped noticeably throughout the round. Wie didn’t want to make a big deal of her ailments, although she did admit that she doesn’t take painkillers or pain relievers because she’s allergic to many of them.

“It was a long day, I’m glad to be done,” she said. “But it is what it is. I’ve kind of embraced it. I’ve played with the pain for a while. I know what to expect. I’m good to go for tomorrow.”

She said the pain has gotten worse as the week has gone on. Lancaster CC is a hilly layout and there are a couple of serious uphill and downhill stretches. Her hip and ankle are fine on the flat lies, she said, but Lancaster requires a number of uphill approach shots and Wie said that’s where she has an issue trying to finish a swing on her tender left side. “You saw it on 18,” said Wie, who flared her approach shot into a greenside bunker. She made a superb bunker shot for a tap-in par.

“Unfortunately, it does get a little bit worse each day,” she said. “I just kind of fight through it. My ankle, as well, has never been good. I’m very grateful that it hasn’t really hurt my backswing. I feel it on the way through. So I kind of pep myself up and go for it. I’m proud of myself today, I hung in there, for sure.”

It looked as if Wie might fall out of contention completely after she finished bogey-bogey on the front nine. Then she birdied the par-4 10th, par-3 12th and par-5 13th to temporarily move into third place.

She left an uphill birdie putt at the 14th hanging on the lip, just short. The glitch at the 16th dropped her one back, and she really needed to save par from the bunker at 18 just to stay within striking distance.

Wie seemed upbeat but looked fatigued after the round. No, she said, she was not going to do any practice after the round. She was going to rest.

“I’m just happy that I’m in a good spot,” she said. “I just want to see what I can do tomorrow.”

A few moments later, she limped off toward the parking lot.

courtesy of Gary Van Sickle (golf.com)

Sei Young Kim’s caddie disqualified from U.S. Women’s Open for taking cellphone photo

sy kimSei Young Kim is off to a rookie-of-the-year type season with two LPGA victories in 2015. But if the 22-year-old South Korean is going to win the U.S. Women’s Open this week at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club she’ll have to do it without her regular caddie.

Paul Fusco, a veteran looper who has also worked on the PGA Tour, took a cellphone photo of the hole locations and course set-up notes for the week, according to sources familiar with the situation, and when the breach was discovered by USGA officials he was banned from the tournament.

Related: Golf’s costliest rules mistakes

Sources say that Fusco was in the USGA Rules office — where he was not credentialed to be — taking the photos when an official walked in on him. The sources say there will be no penalty for Kim.

courtesy of Ron Sirak (golfdigest.com)

Cheyenne Woods: Stop Comparing Me to Tiger

cheyenne woodsCheyenne Woods is best known as Tiger Woods’ niece, but the 24-year-old LPGA Tour pro hints at her displeasure with that in a piece published today on Derek Jeter’s Players Tribune.

In an essay titled “What’s in a Name?” the 24-year-old seeks to distance herself from her famous uncle, to whom she is routinely compared.

“How often are you asked personal questions about your uncle?” she writes. “Once a month? Once a year? Never? For me, it happens almost every day. But that’s just kind of how it works when you’re a professional golfer and your uncle happens to be Tiger Woods.”

Cheyenne is the second member of the Woods family to contribute to Jeter’s athlete-centered site. Tiger took issue with a satirical magazine story by legendary journalist Dan Jenkins last year.

Cheyenne earned her LPGA Tour card before this season and has banked $25,431 through 11 events. She’s tied for 39th after the first round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at the Pinnacle Country Club and is 267th in the Rolex World Rankings.

That exposure has led to more attention, which, naturally, has led to more questions about her famous uncle. Her Players Tribune piece doesn’t explicitly tell writers to stop asking about Tiger — but consider them warned. It seems more designed to distance herself from him and establish what some might call her own brand.

“I’ve had many interactions with reporters where the only topic of conversation was my uncle,” she writes. “This is hardly surprising because, in the golf world, the main question on everyone’s mind is always, ‘Who is the next Tiger Woods?’ — just ask Rory or Jordan Spieth. With me having the name and being related to him, it’s very easy [sic] figure, Well, maybe she’ll dominate the women’s game like Tiger dominated the men’s game when he was her age.”

As Cheyenne hints, that’s a nearly impossible standard to match. Tiger, at 24, had already won three U.S. Amateur championships and two majors.

“Of course, I realize that regardless of what I accomplish in my career, there are probably going to be plenty of people who always consider me ‘Tiger’s niece,’ she writes. “I’m very proud to be related to my uncle, but it’s not what defines me as a golfer or a person. Yes, my last name is Woods — but you can call me Cheyenne.”

courtesy of Matt Newman (golf.com)

LPGA hopeful Brooke Henderson, 17, granted Symetra membership

brooke-henderson-lpga-symetra_t780

Brooke Henderson finally got LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to accept her petition, only it wasn’t for the LPGA. Henderson, 17, became the third-youngest winner on the Symetra Tour June 21 at the Four Winds Invitational. She petitioned to join the tour immediately and will compete in the next two Symetra stops leading up to the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

Henderson had competed twice on the Symetra Tour in 2015, finishing first at Four Winds and tied for second with older sister Brittany at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in March. Money from those two events won’t count toward the official money list. The top 10 players on the Symetra money list at season’s end earn their 2016 LPGA cards.

Henderson shot 72-65-69 at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind., for a 10-under 206 total. She finished three shots ahead of Selanee Henderson, no relation.

“It’s amazing to win and I’m so thankful that I got the sponsor’s exemption this week so I’d be able to play with my older sister,” said Henderson. Brittany Henderson is currently 26th on the money list.

Soon after Brooke Henderson tied for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she traveled to her native Smiths Falls, Ontario, to compete in a Canadian Women’s Tour event on her home course.

“There were a ton of people,” said Brooke. “We had bigger crowds the last two days than I’ve had at some LPGA tour events.”

Brooke finished second in the two-day event, three strokes behind the LPGA’s Rebecca Lee-Bentham. From there she traveled to South Bend, Ind., for the Symetra event, her second pro event in one week.

“I’ve been busy,” Brooke said, “but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

In seven starts on the LPGA, Brooke has amassed $317,470 in unofficial earnings. That would place her 20th on the money list. She needs to finish the equivalent of top 40 on the LPGA money list at season’s end to avoid Q-School (unless she wins, of course).

Big purses at the remaining three majors would certainly help, as well as the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open (Aug. 20-23). Henderson is in the U.S. Women’s Open based on her top-10 finish in 2014. She’s expected to receive an invite into the Ricoh Women’s British Open and would play her way into the Evian Championship should she climb into the top 40 of the Rolex Rankings. She’s currently 49th.

Brooke competed three weeks in a row on the LPGA before winning on Sunday in South Bend. Add in the Canadian Tour event and two more Symetra starts and the Women’s Open will be her eighth start in seven weeks.

Should Henderson win twice more on the Symetra Tour, she would be promoted to play on LPGA out of category 13 (for unofficial money).

Henderon’s agent, Kevin Hopkins of IMG, said her schedule will be somewhat fluid after the Women’s Open, with LPGA Monday qualifiers mixed in with Symetra starts.

Henderson has a goal in mind, and she’s well aware that she has limited time to make it happen. Last year, Hee Young Park finished 40th on the money list with $447,658. There’s still work to be done.

“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” said Henderson of her hectic life. “I’m sort of living the dream.”

courtesy of Beth Ann Nichols (Golfweek.com)