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Charlie Wi’s running of the bulls

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

Charlie Wi is about to be tested like he’s never been tested in his winless 162 game, seven-year PGA Tour career. Wi holds the lead at 12-under after two days at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, three shots ahead of second-place Dustin Johnson, already a two-time winner at this event in 2009 and 2010.

But just beneath Johnson on the scoreboard is a dogged crowd of players bunched up between 6-under and 8-under anticipating, no, salivating for Wi to falter. 

And no one’s going to care that Wi is one of the nice guys if he indeed does slip up.

Charlie Wi, welcome to the PGA’s version of running of the bulls.  Only you’re in Pebble Beach, not Pamplona.  You’re surrounded by the majestic Pacific Ocean crashing below the cliffs, rather than the wooden and iron barricades in the Spanish streets.

And instead of a herd of terrifyingly angry bulls chasing you? You have a dizzying onslaught of multiple winners and major champions, players with something to prove, players with chips on their shoulders, and oh yeah a few guys named Phil and Tiger, all breathing down your neck.  And they’re all looking to mow you down and give you the horns Charlie Wi.

Charlie Wi? Are you ready for this? 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Wi had nightmares Friday night, and probably nightmares of being chased by that same menacing cartel of major champions and multiple winners just mentioned. But this is all normal. Being chased in your dream normally means worry. And whatever is pursuing you in your dream is your unconscious mind letting you know that you need to face some responsibilities.

162 games over 7 years and all you have to show for it is a cameo in the late night Stack and Tilt Golf Channel infomercials? You’re better than that Charlie Wi. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes just this weekend alone.

Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in eagles. Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in birdies. You rank first in driving accuracy, second in putts per green in regulation, and third in total putts. Charlie Wi it’s time to face your fears head on and take these bulls by their horns. You have the game to do it. You have the game to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Or, you could be content to be a mere footnote in this tournament, much like Rickie Fowler will be for his Friday afternoon color ensemble that made him look like an imulsion eating lambent glowstick straight out of the video game Gears of War 3 (which turned out by the way to be long on hype and short on bite).  Is that what you want Charlie Wi?

Saturday is moving day Charlie Wi. Be assertive. Be aggressive. Position yourself to fight back the likes of Dustin Johnson (nine-under), Padraig Harrington (eight-under), Vijay Singh (eight-under), Brian Gay (eight-under), Danny Lee (eight-under), Hunter Mahan (seven-under), Phil Mickelson (seven-under), and of course Tiger Woods (six-under). 

I want to see more shots like your magnificent long iron on No. 8 that you stuck inside 10 feet and then calmly rolled in for birdie. 

I don’t want to see shots like your tentative putt on No. 2 that cost you a birdie and nearly sent you into raving Woody Austin putter meets head combat mode (by the way he has won a few times already on tour).

Your critics are saying you struggle mightily in January and February events, and are probably already writing their Monday headlines like “Careless Wi-sper”, or “Sorry Charlie” anticipating you’ll provide a Jekyll and Hyde performance, erratic shot making and ultimately intimidated collapse.  Don’t let it happen Charlie.

If you think I’m being hard on you, I am.  But it’s a tough love.  You’re living the dream man.  And there are hundreds of thousands of people living vicariously through you.  There are hundreds of thousands of people who dream of being in the position you’re in: leading a field overflowing with the some of the most respected names and notable winners in the game today. 

Harrington moved up 38 spots Friday shooting a six-under 66 for his round at Pebble Beach, hitting 15 of 18 greens-in-regulation.  While Mickelson playing at Monterey Peninsula, moved up 33 spots Friday, shooting a five-under 65 for the round, and also hitting 15 greens-in-regulation.  Singh meanwhile moved up 12 spots shooting 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill, starting strong on his front nine with four birdies in the first seven holes. 

Johnson of course is right on your heels (although his 72 at Spyglass Hill was his highest round at the course in four career starts there). 

And the world remains on the edge of its seat waiting for Tiger to break through and finally win an official PGA Tour event (his drought extends back to the 2009 BMW Championship). Tiger seems ready to do his part, saying after Friday’s round, “I gotta go get it tomorrow.”

All of these guys are major championship winners, and are either in the zone, on fire, or just knocking at the door to remind you there’s a long way still to go for that first win.  Big time players.  Big time names.  Big time games.

But you know what Charlie Wi?  You have a very real opportunity to finish ahead of all of them.  Slam the door closed on all of them.  And earn your first professional PGA Tour win on arguably the most prestigious and grandest course anywhere on the planet, in possibly the most memorable way imaginable, against some of the best players in the game today, and presumptively some of the best to ever play the game.

Charlie Wi, 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Champion.  Has a Wi-nning ring to it don’t you think?

Additional Notes:

Harrington and J.P McManus sit atop the celebrity leaderboard at 25-under, while defending champions D.A Points and partner Bill “My foe, my enemy is an animal.” Murray are tied for 26th place at 12-under.

Round 3 coverage resumes Saturday at 10:00 am PST on Golf Channel, and at 12:00 pm PST on CBS.

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

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  1. Grim

    Feb 12, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Intersting article, but you obvioulsy know nothing about gears of war. As a long time fan i can say GoW3 delivered far more than 2 and expaned on the greatness that was the first game. I would say leave comments that do not belong in an article out, because as the gaming consensus has shown GoW3 was and is a great game. Guess your a halo kid.

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Tour Mash: Rahm wins in Dubai, Cook sizzles to victory

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Two more points races reached their end this weekend. The LPGA season culminated in Florida with the Race to the CME Globe, while the European Tour concluded its Race to Dubai in, where else? Dubai! The PGA Tour played its final event until the new year, in Georgia, while the Ladies European Tour played its Sanya Open in China. Before American Thanksgiving revelry and remembrance set in, it’s time for one more tour mash.

LPGA Tour: A day of twos ends in a win for Ariya

Ariya Jutanugarn birdied her final two holes to win the CME Tour Championship. She was given the opportunity to win in regulation when Lexi Thompson pushed a 2-foot putt for par at the last. Although Thompson did not win the year’s final event, she captured 2 titles of her own: Vare Trophy for low scoring average and Race To CME Globe, the season’s points race.

How Ariya Jutanugarn tasted victory

The power game has arrived on the LPGA Tour, in case you missed it. Golfers such as Lexi, Ariya and Sung Hyun Park obliterate the orb, leaving little yardage to the green. When her game is firing, Ariya Jutanugarn is unstoppable. After bogey at the first hole on Sunday, the young golfer from Thailand etched six birdies into the final 17 holes, for a second-consecutive 67. Her birdie at the last came from 23 feet, an amazing putt to hole with victory on the line. Down it went, and up went the smile of a champion.

How the rest came up just shy of a win

With eerie similarity, Lexi Thompson’s card was the flip side of Ariya’s. Thompson made six birdies over her first 17 holes, but the hiccough at the last, her only bogey on the day, dropped her to 14-under par and opened the door for Jutanugarn. Thompson was on absolute fire on Sunday, hitting all 14 fairways and using the putter 28 times. Ariya, Kim Kaufman, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen stood tied atop at 10-under, heading into round 4. Pettersen’s 72, Kaufman’s 71 and Wie’s 70 were simply not enough to keep pace with those coming from behind on Sunday. Ariya, however, was up to the challenge.

European Tour: Rahm wins in Dubai and Fleetwood breathes again

For a time, it seemed as though Justin Rose would win his third consecutive event in Europe and would squeeze past Fleetwood for the season points title. The former Englishman was in the midst of the greatest scoring run of his career, while the later Englishman seemed to have little petrol left in the tank. Then the back nine on Sunday happened, and everything changed.

How Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour

Shane Lowry made 10 birdies on Sunday, but he had one bogey. Rahm had half as many birdies and zero bogeys, and that last number made the difference. The young Basque played a stellar 132 over the closing 36 holes, eclipsed only by Lowry’s 131. Rahm fearlessly navigated his way around the Jumeirah Estates course, eeking out a one-shot win over Lowry and also hard-charging Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

How the others went home trophy-less

We all want to know about Rose. four birdies on the outward 9-holes staked him to a lead, and the greatest season comeback on a major tour was nearly written. With only three bogeys in his first 63 holes, Rose proceeded to bogey 12, 14 and 16, with only a birdie at the last to bring him to 17-under. He ended up two behind Rahm, and in second place in the Race to Dubai points race. It was a glorious campaign for Rose, and cements him as world player to watch in 2018. The Englishman tied for fourth with Sergio Garcia, Dean Burmeister and Dylan Fritelli, both of South Africa, on 17-under par.

PGA Tour: Cook collects First Tour win in Georgia

Fall is a time for young aspirants to make a mark on the PGA Tour. Austin Cook followed the script, birdieing 3-of-his-final-4 holes to stretch a single-shot lead into a four-stroke triumph. J.J. Spaun, a Web.Com tour graduate in 2017, was in the mix for the second consecutive week. He played well down the stretch, and earned a runner-up finish.

How Cook caught fire

Austin Cook played a veteran front-nine, with one bogey and one birdie. None of the chasers caught him, so the Arkansas alum continued to manage his game in the fairways-greens style. On the inward half, Cook took charge, with birdies at 15, 17 and 18, to move well in front of the runner-up. With the precision of a surgeon, Cook took apart the Sea Island course in impressive fashion. After his second-round 62, many expected him to have one weak round on the weekend, but 66-67 showed the his mettle.

How the others flamed out

Spaun really didn’t flame out, not like last week, when he caught the double-bogey train. A proven winner on other tours, Spaun should win in 2018. His game was solid, mixing in more birdies than bogeys, and his second-place finish was well-earned. Brian Gay might have been more comfortable than any other golfer this week, but he was just as erratic. Case in point: back nine. From holes 13 to 18, Gay made one birdie, two eagles, two pars and one double. Still, his numbers were low enough to secure solo third, one stroke behind Spaun and two in front of the fourth-place finishers.

Ladies European Tour: Boutier sizzles on back nine for win

Celine Boutier imagined a top-10 or top-5 when the third day dawned at Yalong Bay, in China. After bogeys on holes 4 and 5, she needed to gather herself in order to preserve her standing. From this day forward, “gather herself” in the dictionary will forever show a picture of Celine Boutier. Her six-birdie finish vaulted her past all challengers, to her first European Tour victory.

How Boutier bloomed

The recent Duke University graduate posted three rounds in the 60s, the only competitor to achieve that distinction at the Sanya Open. The Frenchwoman didn’t make a bogey until the 15th hole of her second round, but she was stuck in neutral from that hole through the 9th hole on Sunday, making only pars and bogeys. Something clicked at the turn, and Boutier regained the confidence that had produced 10 birdies during the tournament’s first half.

How the others gave chase

Solar Lee was in good standing on Sunday’s outward nine. She bounced back from an opening bogey with three birdies through the 9th, and held the top spot on the leader board at 7-under. Lee reached 9-under through 13, but made bogey at 14 to drop to 8-under. Then came the blossoming of Boutier, and Lee had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. One spot behind Lee was Valdis Thora Jonsdottir, Iceland’s reigning professional golfer, at 7-under.

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Wednesday’s Photos from The 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

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Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2017 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from The 2017 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club — the Seaside course plays as a par 70 measuring 7,005 yards — in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Related

Headlined by last week’s OHL Classic champion Patton Kizzire, and 2015 RSM Champion Kevin Kisner, this week’s field is filled with notable names including Ricky Barnes, Zac Blair, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Harris English, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, Beau Hossler, Zach Johnson, Smylie Kaufman, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Ollie Schniederjans, Brandt Snedeker, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson and others.

In last year’s RSM Classic, Mackenzie Hughes won in a five-man playoff to secure his first PGA Tour victory. He’s back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out out photos from Sea Island G.C. below!

Tuesday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

 

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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