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Michelle Wie keeps putting herself back together again.
Broken down by injury or illness or slump so many times in her career, she keeps finding ways to overcome.
She did it again Sunday in brilliant fashion, coming from five shots behind in the final round to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore with a dramatic putt at the final hole, a 36-foot birdie from just off the front of the green.
Wie thrust her fist into the sky when that last putt fell, and then she punched the air twice more in giddy delight.
“I think that has to be the best putt of my career so far,” she said.
Four long, frustrating years after winning the U.S. Women’s Open, Wie was finally able to claim her fifth LPGA title.
“It’s been a tough journey since 2014,” she said. “It’s been kind of well documented. I’ve had some injuries, had a really bad year, just lost a lot of confidence. I’m just really proud of myself for pulling myself out of it.”
Wie’s parents, B.J. and Bo, were in the gallery following, as they always are. Her parents have been scrutinized and criticized as much as any in the sport over their handling of the former phenom. Wie, 28, said they were on her mind when that last putt dropped.
“When I made the putt, I could just picture my parents kind of celebrating,” Wie said. “My family believed in me relentlessly, and with that, I started to believe in myself.”
Wie beat a star-studded lineup Sunday that included 19 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.
“This is Asia’s major,” Wie said.
With a bogey-free 7-under-par 65, Wie prevailed in a crazy afternoon of high drama, breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead with that birdie at the last. She finished at 17 under overall, a shot ahead of Brooke Henderson (67), Danielle Kang (70), Nelly Korda (71) and Jenny Shin (65).
“Everyone was really clustered up there on the leaderboard,” Wie said. “I’m just really proud of myself for making a lot of birdies, and [to] keep going.”
So many players got in the mix on the back nine, with one player after another mounting charges. The course record was 64, but five players equaled or broke the mark in the final round.
After her closing birdie, Wie had to wait in the wings and watch Korda and Kang miss birdie chances at the last that could have forced a playoff.
The victory was sweet for Wie for a lot of reasons, including her inability to close out a 54-hole lead in this event a year ago.
“I just wanted to get revenge after last year a little bit,” Wie said. “I kind of came with a slight chip on my shoulder in the morning.”
Wie overcame so much winning that U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst in 2014, when she finally looked ready to realize all her potential in a run to No. 1. But, she was derailed by a finger injury later that summer, and then by hip, knee and ankle injuries that led to an awful slump after that. When she finally looked as if she was turning a corner again last year, neck spasms and an emergency appendectomy derailed her in the summer.
“Definitely, my team and my family and my friends have pulled me out of the hard times and kept me going,” Wie said. “There have been moments where it was hard. It was hard to keep going and to keep playing.”
Wie’s longtime swing coach, David Leadbetter, has been there through all the challenges with her since she was 13.
“I can’t list all the injuries Michelle has had in her career,” Leadbetter said at year’s start. “I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue.
“The main goal this year is really to see if she can go injury free.”
Leadbetter believes Wie hasn’t reached what she’s really capable of yet, but he’s hopeful this might be the year. There was promise loaded in Sunday’s victory.
Both Iconic Events Originally Founded by Tony Wise, Hayward, WI
Hayward, Wisconsin (December 20, 2017) – Over 50 years ago, Hayward entrepreneur, Tony Wise, picked up the phone and began assembling competitors for an event he called the Lumberjack World Championships. A tireless promoter of northern Wisconsin, in 1973 Wise also founded the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. Years later, these two iconic north woods events are once again joining forces with the signing of a resource sharing and management services agreement between the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) and the Lumberjack World Championships Foundation, Inc. (LWCF) organizations.
“Working collaboratively with the LWCF to solidify the future of timber sports in Hayward, WI, is an exciting proposition. I can tell you that the ABSF staff is excited to infuse the LWC events with the same passion they bring to Birkie events,” said Ben Popp, ABSF Executive Director. “Knowing how important the economic impact of this legendary event is to the region, we’ll do our best to ensure that visitors and competitors have a tremendous experience at LWC 2018.”
The LWCF engaged the ABSF to provide specific advisory, consulting, and management services for their Lumberjack World Championships events. Previously, the LWCF, a 501(c)(4), had a seasonal and part-time staff, whereas the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a 501(c)(3) has a full-time staff of 12. Both organizations are in Hayward, WI. Under the terms of the agreement, the ABSF will act as an independent contractor for the LWCF. The resource sharing and management services agreement will provide infrastructure for the seasonal events promoted and conducted by the LWCF and includes organizational strategy, event planning, marketing, human resources, staff training, accounting, technology, general operations, and business management support. The agreement for consulting services extends for an initial term of one year, with an automatic one-year renewal, unless terminated by either organization.
“It’s ironic to see the LWC come full circle back to being housed under the same roof as the Birkie. Both events mean so much to the Hayward community and it says a lot about Hayward to have maintained these traditional events,” said DJ Aderman, LWCF Board President and Chief of Competition. “Strategically, utilizing the staff and the expertise of the ABSF to grow and sustain the LWC event couldn’t happen at a better time for the competitors, sponsors and fans of lumberjack sports. I am extremely excited at what the future holds for the LWC.”
The first American Birkebeiner ski race started in Lumberjack Bowl, home to the Lumberjack World Championships. Since their inception, the American Birkebeiner (Birkie) has grown to become North America’s largest cross-country ski race and the Lumberjack World Championships has elevated itself to the most outstanding lumberjack competition, drawing competitors from around the globe.
Each February the ABSF’s Birkie week of Nordic festivities draws an estimated 40,000 skiers and spectators to northwest Wisconsin. Later in July, the Lumberjack World Championships showcases over 21 events ranging from sawing and chopping to speed climbing, log rolling and boom running. Over 100 male and female competitors vie for the prize purse each year in front of over 12,000 spectators.
The American Birkebeiner Festivities are slated for February 22 – 25, 2018 and the Lumberjack World Championships from July 19 – 21, 2018. Tickets for the 2018 Lumberjack World Championships will go on sale in early January 2018.
Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is known for its signature American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon held each February. Today, the Birkie has grown to encompass a year-round lifestyle that provides healthy, active events for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts of all levels. From the iconic Birkie ski race, to the Birkie Trail Run & Trek, and the Fat Bike Birkie race – the world’s largest fat bike race, the ABSF and the Birkie Trail attract skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite superstars. The Birkie embodies a healthy active lifestyle. The Birkie Trail is a fitness destination and mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Ski. Run. Bike. Live! Visit www.Birkie.com to learn more.
The Lumberjack World Championships began in 1960 as a way to acknowledge the rich history of the logging industry across the United States. Work day skills that were perfected in the forests of the nation became a past-time and soon grew into an exciting and growing sporting event. From the Lumberjack World Championships, now trademarked in Hayward, Wisconsin, to the ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, timber sports have increased in popularity with loyal fans and competitors from around the globe.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Justin Thomas was down to his last chance when he delivered his most clutch shot of the final round in the Honda Classic.
Turns out he wasn’t finished.
Thomas nearly holed a gap wedge on the par-5 18th hole for a birdie to force a playoff with Luke List. Moments later, he hit 5-wood over the water, urged it to keep going and lost it momentarily in the darkening sky over PGA National.
“All I was looking at was the water to see if it splashed,” Thomas said. “And it didn’t. So I figured I was in the bunker, and then people started clapping and I could kind of see some little white dot on the green.”
That set up a two-putt birdie that made him a winner when List, who hit his own bold shot in regulation to the 18th to set up birdie, could only manage par in the playoff.
Thomas closed with a 2-under 68 and won for the second time this season. He also won in a playoff at the CJ Cup in South Korea last fall. With eight career victories, including seven in his last 31 starts on the PGA Tour, he moved to No. 3 in the world. He is one spot ahead of longtime friend Jordan Spieth for the first time, which was of little significance to Thomas.
“Not really,” he said. “Because there’s still two more spots that I want to climb.’
List, going for his first PGA Tour victory, shot 32 on the back nine and closed with a 69. His only regret was a tee shot wide right in the playoff that landed amid palm trees and left him little options. He went left against the bleachers, and hit a superb approach to about 25 feet and two-putted for par.
Yell for Justin Thomas' ball to go in the bunker? You'll be leaving the course early. At least that was the case on Sunday when one fan decided to test the champ: https://t.co/0mcXahSYNZ pic.twitter.com/tc9jkC6m3o
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) February 26, 2018
“Obviously, it hurts right now,” List said. “But I think that when I look back on it, I’ll be proud of the way I hung in there.”
Alex Noren (67) finished third. He was tied for the lead when he went for the green on the 18th, only for the ball to hit hung up on the side of the collar of a bunker, leaving him a tough chip. He missed a birdie chance from 20 feet.
Tiger Woods was briefly within three shots of the lead on the front nine. He closed with a 70 and finished 12th.
The 5-wood turned out to be the winner for Thomas. The wedge made it possible.
Jack Nicklaus was in the broadcast booth for most of the final round, leaving before Thomas and List reached the 18th hole. It might have all looked familiar to Nicklaus, the U.S. captain of the 1983 Ryder Cup at PGA National. The big moment that year was Lanny Wadkins nearly jarring a wedge on the 18th hole, a shot so meaningful to the outcome that Nicklaus kissed the divot.
“I have a lot of confidence in my wedge game,” Thomas said. “I knew if I got a decent number that I was going to be able to get inside 10 feet. That’s all I wanted was a chance to try to get into a playoff. And then ended up hitting a great wedge.”
Thomas and List finished at 8-under 272. It was the seventh playoff in 15 PGA Tour events this season.
Woods made that Sunday red shirt look a little brighter, at least for a while. With an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 eighth hole, he momentarily pulled within three shots of the lead. That only lasted the few minutes that it took Thomas to tap in for birdie on the par-5 third.
Woods made bogey to close out his front nine, and he still was four shots behind until getting swallowed up again by the water-filled closing stretch. He put his tee shot into water and made double bogey for the second straight day, three-putted the 16th for bogey and was out of hope.
“I made a big leap this week because I really hit it well,” Woods said. “I was able to control it, especially in this wind, which is not easy to do.”
Woods led the field in proximity to the hole on his approach shots at just over 29 feet.
Not to be overlooked was Sam Burns of LSU, who last year won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top college player who received a sponsor exemption. Playing alongside Woods in such a chaotic arena, he was bogey-free for a 68 to tie for eighth. That will get him into the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in two weeks.
Five players had at least a share of the lead. Only three of them stuck around until the end.
Webb Simpson missed the fairway on the 11th hole and had to lay up instead of taking on the water. That led to the first of three bogeys in a four-hole stretch and sent him to a 72, four shots behind. Tommy Fleetwood was tied for the lead until a three-putt bogey from long range on the 14th, and a bogey from the back bunker on the 15th. A birdie on the final hole for a 69 left him two shots behind.
By SEAN ZAK
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
It was a quiet race for Chairman of the PGA Tour Advisory Council. That was until Billy Hurley III made a late splash this week.
Hurley III was going up against Jordan Spieth, Golden Child and no. 3 golfer in the world. It was tough competition, and with just one day left for Tour players to vote, he turned to a classic campaign strategy: mudslinging.
Hurley III released a video pinpointing all of Spieth’s flaws, from him being an elite, “one percenter” golfer, to the ways in which he treats his caddie Michael Greller. Beyond that, Hurley III called attention to his own military history.
The video swept across PGA Tour circles Monday, with many players tweeting it out saying Hurley III had captured their vote. Why? Well, because the video is hilarious and you’d need to watch it for yourself. The impact of the video was so great that Jordan Spieth himself even admitted he would vote for Hurley III.
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It had been five long years since he won, but that wasn’t what was on Gary Woodland’s mind when he made the final putt and pointed to the sky.
He was thinking of the family member who was gone but not forgotten.
“Yeah, that was just kind of a tribute to last year,” Woodland said after shooting a final-round 64 and beating Chez Reavie with a par on the first playoff hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. “Obviously, we lost a little girl, and being there, seeing my wife give birth to her, that’s real.”
Woodland’s eyes flooded with tears. “Just wanted her to know I still love her,” he said.
On March 29 of last year, Woodland released a statement that he and his wife, Gabby, had lost one of their unborn twins. He had just withdrawn from the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, and in the statement he added that “doctors will be monitoring the health of my wife and the other baby for the remainder of the pregnancy.”
Just over 10 months later, Gabby and their son, Jaxson, surprised him on the 18th green as the family celebrated Gary’s first victory since the 2013 Barracuda Championship. Woodland calls Jaxson his “miracle” son, and he and Gabby held him close and continue to do so after the trials of 2017.
“Really took off about four months,” said Woodland, who moves from 38th to fifth in the FedExCup standings. “But I found a way to get to the TOUR Championship, kind of battled through the end of the year, and I couldn’t wait for 2018 to start.”
Said Brennan Little, Woodland’s caddie: “His demeanor has been better. Last year was a bit of a mess. I mean, not really knowing his schedule, missing a few events, going home. Now the wife and the baby have been out; his attitude has been really good, which I think you can see in some of the rounds in Hawaii and San Diego, he got off to some bad starts and brought them back.”
Woodland was trending in the right direction after a T7 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and a T12 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Matt Kuchar, who hung around to congratulate Woodland after the victory, said he played nine holes with Woodland on Tuesday before the start of the WMPO and was wowed. “He was driving it just so well,” Kuchar said.
In addition to his wife and son, Woodland was cheered on by his parents, his sister and her husband, and others from back home in Topeka, Kansas. (He now lives in South Florida.) He got a text from his coach, Butch Harmon, on Thursday, urging him to put four good rounds together and not worry about the score. He did that, and recent putting lessons from friend Brad Faxon paid dividends, as well, as Woodland made 200 feet of putts on the weekend.
“I was in the zone,” he said. “I mean, I really had it going. My caddie asked me when I got done, did I know I made nine birdies. I didn’t even know I did that.”
Now it’s on to California for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and the resumption of a career that for five years was sidetracked by frustration, injuries and loss.
“It’s really hard to put in words right now,” Woodland said. “Last year we battled through it, couldn’t get to the off-season quick enough, couldn’t start 2018 soon enough. For [Jaxson] to be here, it’s obviously a miracle, but I’m just so excited to share this with him and my family, and hopefully it’s the start of something special.”
LA JOLLA, Calif. — The massive throngs that mysteriously had a late January Thursday off from work suggest that the Tiger Woods comeback is now more than a tradition. It’s a holiday, too.
Presumably they were there to see him, anyway, but to see him do what? Other than the ubiquitous swoosh and the occasional epithet, Woods was giving them little that they might have recognized. There were no trademark fist pumps, no club twirls.
Yet for one shining moment late in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods gave them a glimpse of his old self, not at 42 his older self.
At the par-3 16th on the South Course at Torrey Pines, 190 yards across a chasm, Woods nearly made an ace. He hit it to eight inches of the hole, a tap-in birdie that was the highlight of an indifferent round of even-par 72.
“It’s just a full 6-iron, throw it up in the air,” he said. “The greens are really springy, so I was trying to land it soft. And we can’t see anything land from back there so we’re just listening for some noise and people started cheering.”
That’s why they were here.
— Indy Sport (@IndySport) January 26, 2018
Moral victories generally are vastly overrated, but concede him this one. He had played only 36 holes on the PGA Tour in the last 2½ years, yet he performed admirably. Admirably won’t be enough to get him to the weekend—he is tied for 84th—but he does have the more generous North Course on Friday.
“It was fun, it was fun to compete again,” he said. “It was fun to be out there. We had a great pairing today. Pat [Reed} played great, Charley [Hoffman] was solid all day, and I was probably a little bit rusty.”
He opened with a bogey, not an unusual start for Woods, who won the U.S. Open here without making a par at the first hole in the first four rounds in 2008. He hit only eight of 14 fairways and just 12 of 18 greens in regulation.
“On the back nine, he looked solid and steady,” Reed said. “When he wasn’t too happy with a shot it still was manageable. That’s the biggest thing, not playing awhile. I took off six weeks off from competitive golf and played last week and felt like I didn’t know what the heck I was doing out there. There’s a lot of mental errors that happen. For a guy who played one tournament in a year to come out and play the way he did today, I was impressed.
“He seemed excited. He was in the zone, focusing on being a competitor, but I can imagine inside he was probably jumping for joy being out here with the guys playing golf again, especially pain free. That’s huge. He looked good.”
Woods’ harshest critic, meanwhile, was himself, and he veered sharply from his go-to cliche, that “it’s a process.”
“I didn’t hit my irons very well today,” Woods said. “I didn’t give myself a lot of looks out there and consequently I didn’t make a lot of birdies. I didn’t play the par 5s as well, either. I need to clean up my iron game and give myself a lot more looks at it.”
“Baby steps,” Reed called them, fittingly, as it were, on behalf of a man attempting to turn back the clock.