Michelle Wie claims she understands this rule, but how many times can one golfer cough up the "I'm an innocent victim" response after being penalized by an official?
Wie was on the par-5 11th hole when she hit her ball in hazard near the edge of the water. She splashed out, and after seeing that the ball advanced just a few feet and didn't escape the hazard, she grounded her club by her left foot. She finished the hole thinking she saved an amazing par, only to be told that she had been penalized for breaking Rule 13-4b.
What ensued after the round was a heated debate. While footage of the incident indicates that she deserved the two-stroke penalty, Wie claimed she was using the club to regain her balance and therefore should not incur the penalty.
"I know what it looks like, but it was a really slippery spot," Wie told the officials after her round. "It seems really unfair because I know I was off balance."
Wie added: "You were not me, and you can't give me a penalty for what it looks like. You don't know for a fact that I was not off balance."
Had Wie not been penalized, she would have finished in a tie for second place, not sixth. That drop equates to about $91,000 in prize money.
This isn't Wie's first rules faux pas. Let's tally up what the other infractions have cost her:
-2005 Samsung World Championship: This was Wie's first tournament as a professional, and she inadvertently dropped the ball closer to the hole while taking relief. That inch or two cost her a cool $53,126.
-2006 Women's British Open: Wie was in greenside bunker during the second round and hit a piece of moss behind her ball during her backswing. That deducted two strokes from her score, which amounted to about $4,000 and lots of lost momentum heading into the weekend.
-2008 LPGA State Farm Classic: In my opinion, this infraction it the most mind-boggling of all. After an amazing 67 and a third-place finish, Wie was disqualified for not signing her scorecard after the second round. This DQ cost her $113,169.
Total setback? About $261,295. That kind of money could help you buy several tall stacks of Rules books.
Michelle Wie has signed an endorsement deal with McDonald's and will take part in a campaign that launches next month. Her commercial will air around the globe in five languages: English, Korean, Taglish and two dialects of Chinese.
The LPGA also announced a new partnership with NYCA, a California-based ad agency whose clients include TaylorMade-Adidas Golf and the San Diego Union-Tribune. This could be one of the bigger announcements of 2010, and it proves that the LPGA is still striving to overhaul its public image and redefine its global brand.
Since 2005, the LPGA's slogan has been "These Girls Rock." Quite honestly, I've never warmed up to the (slightly cheesy) tag-line. If I were involved in any of the marathon meetings I'm sure are taking place, I'd suggest a slogan of my own. One that encapsulates what the LPGA Tour is all about.
How about this: "Impressive. Intriguing. Inspiring."
So while his latest move might not surprise those in his inner circle, it did catch our eye. In an attempt to get a better sense for what the Duramed Futures Tour (the LPGA's developmental tour) is all about, Whan will caddy for Lili Alvarez at the Florida's Natural Charity Classic, the first round of the tour's first event this season.
"There's no way to get to know our business partners, players, volunteers, caddies, fans, etc without being there," said Whan, who spends a lot of time on the driving ranges and often walks the course during competitive rounds. "That's how you become part of the team, and I'm a new member of the team."
Whan added: "I hope Lili thinks it's cool."
That's an understatement, according to Alvarez.
"I had no idea this would happen," said Alvarez, an energetic 26-year-old who speaks with spunk and enthusiasm. "I was just sitting at home in Mexico, comfortable, doing my own thing when Zayra Calderon [CEO of the Futures Tour] called me to tell me the news. I was like, 'That's so awesome!'"
Chances are, you haven't heard of Alvarez. The native Texan studied Political Science at Tulane University, and grabbed three wins in collegiate competition. Alvarez turned pro in 2007, but life on the road has been rough. Alvarez has earned about $11,000 after two full seasons (33 starts) on the Futures Tour, so she's hoping to turn a corner this season.
"It's my third year on tour, and I've always said golf is a lot like baseball," said Alvarez. "I've been given three chances to prove myself."
Whan and Alvarez have never met, and they've exchanged just one email. So when I asked Whan about what advice he plans to give, he laughed and returned with an insightful reply:
"I'll say very little. I'll show up, keep up and shut up."
Barbie's "I Can Be..." campaign is striving to empower girls to dream and conquer all the goals they have. So the company has partnered with 10 women who have demonstrated the undying will to accomplish their goals.
Three of these women are athletes: Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic snowboarder, Danica Patrick, professional race car driver, and the LPGA's Brittany Lincicome.
"Golf has always been a big part of my life," said Lincicome. "It has helped teach me discipline and perseverance and has also allowed me to have fun while doing something I love. I am thrilled to partner with the Barbie brand to help introduce and inspire more girls to take an active interest in the sport of golf."
Lincicome will host several clinics throughout the year to encourage girls to start playing golf.
But Barbie didn't stop at Lincicome. A new line of Barbie branded golf clubs by Acculength ($139-$179) will debut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Acculength, one of the leading junior club manufacturers, is the only company that offers junior golf clubs that grow as fast as children; the clubs have expandable shafts.
Golf is the exception.
So to encourage all spectators to walk the course the next time they watch an LPGA tournament, the LPGA Tour has partnered with Blue Diamond Almonds, the official healthy snack of the LPGA, to launch the 'Walk a Healthy 18' campaign. (The endeavor will also urge fans to munch on almonds and other healthy snacks, of course.) Indeed, onlookers who walk all 18 holes could easily log five miles.
"Since we began our partnership in the spring of 2008, the Blue Diamond team has worked hard to discover unique and effective ways to connect with our health-conscious fans," said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. "We're thrilled to partner with a first class brand on this creative campaign."
This new campaign will soon attract followers on Facebook and Twitter.
The tournament will feature the top 50 LPGA players on the Official Money List, along with 10 sponsor's exemptions. It'll be a 54-hole stroke play event without a cut to ensure that the fans, many of whom will be watching a professional golf event live for the first time, can catch a glimpse of their favorite golfers throughout the weekend.
This latest announcement continues a stretch of positive news for the LPGA. Two inaugural tournaments (the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore) just concluded a successful two-week opening-season swing in Asia, the tour added the Sybase Match Play Championship, to be played in New Jersey in May, and it secured Kia Motors as the title sponsor for the Kia Classic Presented by J Golf, to be played in southern California from March 25-28.
The Sime Darby LPGA Classic will be shown on the Golf Channel from 12-2 p.m. EST during all three days of the tournament.