Michelle Wie keeping busy with video series, LPGA host
LOS ANGELES (AP) — To ask Michelle Wie West what she is up to these days is not likely to yield a short answer.
When she is not chasing around 2-year-old daughter McKenna or learning to grow vegetables in her garden, the former U.S. Women’s Open champion is keeping a steady presence in business and in golf, and they don’t always intersect.
Her latest venture is a project with corporate partner PitchBook and Front Office Sports. It’s called “Driven with Michelle Wie West,” a series of 12-minute videos in which she interviews athletes about their drive and how they choose to invest.
Her guests so far have featured two-time WNBA All-Star Chiney Ogwumike (they were at Stanford together) and beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings.
“A lot of them I knew personally,” Wie West said. “It’s a chance to learn about their journey. We’ve known these women and we know what they can do. This is more about the investment side.”
The first season was filmed in one day.
“A lot of wardrobe changes, a lot of research,” she said. “It was really fun, really organic.”
Wie West remains best known for close calls in LPGA majors when she was in high school, missing the cut by one shot on the PGA Tour at age 14, and her five LPGA victories that include the Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014.
She also split time as an LPGA Tour player and a college student, and those years at Stanford inspired her.
“It was an interesting in Silicon Valley,” said Wie West, who graduated with a communications degree in 2012. “One of our classmates started Snapchat. It was an amazing place where cool ideas were coming out, and you were inspired to do the same.”
She is mostly retired from competition, though she plans to play the U.S. Women’s Open one last time when it goes to Pebble Beach this summer for the first time.
Wie West also is tournament host of the Mizuho Americas Open, a new LPGA Tour event in which 24 female juniors will compete in their own American Junior Golf Association event while playing alongside a 120-player LPGA field.
Most telling is the venue, Liberty National across the Hudson River from New York City, a course that prefers to host only special events. It has held a FedEx Cup postseason event and a Presidents Cup.
Wie West, who married Golden State Warriors basketball executive Jonnie West (son of Jerry West) in 2019, still has a sponsorship with Nike and said she travels to Nike headquarters in Oregon to take part in a think tank with other women to talk about issues and initiatives.
She also joined the Royal & Ancient to be an ambassador in trying to broaden the game’s appeal.
“I am strangely busy,” she said with a laugh.
WEST COAST MOVES
The PGA Tour’s arrival in Florida marks the unofficial road to the Masters, and two players come with a lot of momentum.
One of them is Jason Day, a former world No. 1. Day ended last year at No. 112 in the world. In his last four starts, he tied for 18th in The American Express, tied for seventh at Torrey Pines, finished fifth in Phoenix and tied for ninth at Riviera.
Now the Australian is up to No. 46, making him a lock for the Match Play next week as he tries to stay in the top 50 to get back to the Masters.
Keith Mitchell tied for fourth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and then was in the final group at Riviera and wound up alone in fifth. He is at No. 44 in the world and, like Day, will try to stay in the top 50 to return to Augusta National.
The Masters takes the top 50 on March 26 — after the Match Play — and that 64-man field will go the deepest into the world ranking since 2001.
That’s more a product of Saudi-funded LIV Golf. There currently are 11 players on LIV Golf rosters from among the top 64, and with a few players likely to skip the Match Play, it most likely will go down to nearly 80th in the world to fill the field.
That bodes particularly well for Matt Kuchar, who had a pair of top 10s during the West Coast swing (tie for seventh in Honolulu, eighth at Riviera) and has gone up to No. 65 after starting the year at No. 87.
Kuchar has a 36-11-4 record in the WGC-Dell Match Play.
GOYDOS AT 700
Paul Goydos used to work as a substitute teacher and had no idea if he would ever make it as a PGA Tour player, or how long he would last.
That made last week at the Chubb Classic telling. Goydos now has played 700 tournaments on the PGA Tour (511) and PGA Tour Champions (189).
“For me, it just means that I’ve been able to grind things out,” Goydos said. “No one has ever accused me of being a star or a great player, but I’ve been able to stay consistent and do my thing and keep doing my thing, enough to have a nice long career out of it.
“If you would have asked me if I was 20 years old if I’d have one start, I would have been surprised,” he said. “So having 700 is great. It’s a bonus.”
Goydos didn’t just show up. He won at Bay Hill in 1996 and the Sony Open in 2007. His combined earnings on both tours is over $20 million.
The biggest surprise when LIV Golf announced its first batch of players was Hudson Swafford, a three-time PGA Tour winner who has gone through his career without making many waves.
His inaugural season didn’t turn out all that well. Swafford’s best result was a tie for 29th against 48-man fields.
Swafford missed the cut in the Saudi International and then withdrew from the Asian Tour event in Oman. Now, the soft-spoken Swafford will sit out the 2023 season with a hip injury, which he said contributed to the “decline in my on-course performance.”
He said surgery will require four to six months of rehabilitation.
“I remain a LIV Golf player and supporter and will be attending events as soon as my recovery allows me to in a non-playing capacity,” Swafford said in a statement posted on the league’s website. “I am excited for the year ahead to get healthy again and back to playing the way I know I can and look forward to being back on the course soon.”
Without getting world ranking points, LIV Golf begins its second season with only one player from the top 20 (Cameron Smith at No. 5) and six players from the top 50. … Jon Rahm has won five of his 10 titles on the PGA Tour in California. … Longtime Scottish golf writer John Huggan is the 2023 winner of the Memorial Golf Journalism Award. He will be honored at Muirfield Village during the Memorial. … Shaun Norris, one of the original players to join LIV Golf last year, is among six players not on a roster this year. The South African is playing the Hero Indian Open this week on the European tour. … One of the new PGA Tour plans for this season was to give rookies $500,000 up front that counts against their earnings until the number is surpassed. Taylor Montgomery and Thomas Detry are among eight rookies who already have cleared $500,000.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jon Rahm is the first player with three PGA Tour wins in a calendar year before March since Johnny Miller in 1975.
“My whole life is an improbable story.” — Bernhard Langer, who has 45 victories since turning 50 to tie Hale Irwin for most wins on the PGA Tour Champions.
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