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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

1 Comment

1 Comment

  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 News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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News

Custom Camerons, wedge stampings, a 6-hybrid, and Tiger wearing Tennis shoes?

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Yesterday, we brought you shots of Thomas Pieters’ iron stamping, Adam Scott’s new (shorter) wand, and more.

Today, we’ve got some more choice shots from the range at Riviera from Tuesday’s practice. Strap in for a sampling from a cornucopia of WITB shots and a helping of Tiger Woods (who we feature in two galleries). We also discussed his new driver shaft yesterday, so if you missed that piece, check it out.

On to the pictures.

First up, Wesley Bryan looks to be gaming an some Anthony Taranto artistry with his 54-degree Mack Daddy 4 wedge. Do work, indeed!

Ted Potter, Jr. won more than a million dollars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. But as the check hasn’t come yet, he hasn’t been able to buy Goo Gone to take the tape residue off the bottom of his putter.

A custom Cam for Rafa Cabrera Bello.

…and William McGirt.

#GrindGoals (Luke Donald’s 60-degree Mizuno T7)

Vijay Singh looks to have gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap, and yet he’s still practicing!

The most famous putter in golf, and Nike Vapor Advantage tennis shoes for Tiger?

Apparently, all the weight modification available on PXG 0311 irons was insufficient for Charl Schwartzel.

When your name scripting matches your sponsor’s script…

This is not the WITB of a 20-handicapper, rather Camilo Villegas may be the only Tour pro gaming a 6-hybrid.

So much is going on with Camilo Villegas’ irons…

You’ve seen custom stampings, but how about Bubba Watson’s custom shaft and custom shaft graphic?

When you’re the only PGA Tour professional to own a candy store, your wedge imagery reflects that fact.

The Big Cat browsing GolfWRX on mobile, no doubt…

If you’d like to dig deeper, we have two galleries of range photos from the Riv, plus 13 (!) WITB threads. Dig in!

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