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Oakland Hills getting ready for Ryder Cup

Ben Hogan called Oakland Hills ``this Monster'' when he shot 67 in the final round of the 1951 U.S. Open.

Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton sees the venerable course a little differently these days.

He has played Oakland Hills numerous times in advance of the Sept. 17-19 matches, including 27 holes on Sunday. He says it requires restraint off the tee, and it will favor players who can manage their game.

``I'm not making it sound like a 94-pound weakling,'' Sutton said Tuesday. ``What I'm saying is it's going to take management to play this golf course. It's not the monster that it used to be.''

The last major event at Oakland Hills, located in the Detroit suburbs, was the 1996 U.S. Open, where assistant Ryder Cup captain Steve Jones won at 2-under 278. Sutton had not played there since the 1985 U.S. Open, where he tied for 23rd.

``It's not what I remember it being,'' Sutton said. ``But the greens are everything I remember them being. It will take a good iron player. You can't be a great putter if you putt from the wrong spot of the greens at Oakland Hills.''

The one place power might be a factor is at No. 6, the shortest par 4 on the course.

Sutton said the PGA of America has built a new tee that has been moved up 25 yards and will allow big hitters to try to reach the green. He said it will play about 310 yards up a slight hill.


Michelle Wie isn't the only member of the family who has to go back to school.

Her father, B.J. Wie, has been on a one-year sabbatical from the University of Hawaii, where he is a transportation professor. That ends when his 14-year-old daughter finishes her summer vacation by playing in the U.S. Women's Amateur next week, followed by the Wendy's Championship on the LPGA Tour.

``Right after that, I'll be in a lecture,'' he said.

He only has two classes -- business logistics management and a graduate course in advanced tourism analysis -- but has to keep office hours all week. And that means sending his wife and daughter out on their own.

Wie's final LPGA Tour event of the year is the Samsung World Championship on Oct. 14-17 at Bighorn. Her father said he would fly to the Palm Springs area on Friday night before the tournament, fly back to Hawaii on Monday and then return for the final two rounds on the weekend.

``It will be quite challenging for me,'' Wie said. ``I cannot be absent during the semester, so I'll be flying more.''

He takes care of all the travel arrangements, and that includes driving the rental car. Now, those duties fall to his wife, Bo, who drives sparingly at home and never on the road.

``Bo can drive, but Michelle doesn't trust Bo outside Honolulu,'' Wie said with a laugh. ``We found a host family near the golf course (at Bighorn), so they can take a golf cart to the tournament.''

Wie dispelled rumors that a relationship with Nike Golf is imminent just because swing coach Gary Gilchrist left the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida to join International Junior Golf Academy at Hilton Head, S.C., where Nike is a business partner.

Gilchrist started working with Wie in May 2002, but Leadbetter became her exclusive teacher in November. Her father said Gilchrist continued to go to Wie's tournaments because Leadbetter was busy with other clients on the PGA Tour, such as Charles Howell III and Ernie Els.

``Last year in November, Gary brought Michelle to ChampionsGate (in Orlando, Fla.) and handed it over to David,'' Wie said. ``Since that time, David is 100 percent in charge in terms of her golf swing. Gary was the assistant. It was a like a football team, head coach and assistant coach.

``But since Gary left the Academy, that two-tier system doesn't exist anymore.''


Fred Funk is feeling battered and bruised these days, in part from a rib injury that knocked him out of the Buick Open, in part from criticism of his decision to skip the British Open so he could try to earn Ryder Cup points at the B.C. Open.

``It wasn't unfair criticism,'' Funk said. ``I expected to get it for skipping the British when you're exempt for it, and double whammy when I played an event opposite the British. That was like a double slap.''

But he makes no apologies. Funk is 48, and he realizes this is his last chance to play in the Ryder Cup.

What bothers him is the perception that he doesn't belong on the team.

Funk tied for second in Milwaukee -- a week after he tied for 40th in the B.C. Open -- to earn 85 points and move up to eighth place in the Ryder Cup standings.

Milwaukee had a relatively weak field, although Funk also earned points this year with top 10s at The Players Championship, MCI Heritage and the U.S. Open. A year ago, his nine top 10s included a tie for second in Phoenix, a tie for third at the Nissan Open, a tie for seventh at the PGA Championship, and a tie for ninth in the Tour Championship.

``Anyone who makes the team, you can't say they don't deserve to be on it,'' he said.


John Daly's endorsements don't always go hand-in-hand.

On the lapel of his shirt is a logo for Trim Spa. On the sleeve of his shirt is his latest endorsement -- Dunkin' Donuts. The divergent sponsorship was not lost on Daly.

``That's like having Miller Lite and AA,'' he said with a laugh.


The Toledo Mud Hens will see another golfer on the mound. Dottie Pepper will throw out the first pitch Friday night while at the Jamie Farr Classic on the LPGA Tour. Last year, Phil Mickelson tried out for the Mud Hens with hopes of pitching in a Triple-A game. ... Adam Scott will have to skip the Australian Open to play in the Skins Games, the second straight year he has missed his national Open. ``I need to increase my profile, and the Skins is an ideal vehicle,'' Scott told the Australian Associated Press. ... Davis Love III is making plans to play in the Father-Son Challenge with his son, Dru, who will be 11 in December.


Tiger Woods has failed to win seven out of the last eight times he has shot all four rounds in the 60s.


``Other than my family, making that team is pretty much the most important thing in my life.'' -- Jerry Kelly, on his bid to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

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