Jul 07

Defending U.S. Women’s Open champ Wie making drastic swing change

Michelle Wie may be the defending U.S. Women's Open champion this week at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania, but it won't be the same player looking to go back-to-back in the most prestigious event in women's golf.

After winning the U.S. Women's Open last year at Pinehurst No. 2, Wie's quality of play fell off precipitously. In the 24 events since, she's missed five cuts and been forced to withdraw from another three. Her best effort this season is a tie for 11th in her title defense at the LPGA Lotte Championship in April. She made the cut in both prior LPGA majors this year but was nowhere near a factor.

Unbeknownst to Wie, a hip injury, which has nagged her for years, had been made worse over time by the action she had worked on with instructor David Leadbetter. Her doctors had told her that, if she kept on the path she was going along, a total muscle tear in her hip was imminent. So, the 25-year-old had no choice. She had to revamp her swing.

The result: a longer, less violent action with less width in her stance. The hope is that combination will put less stress on her ailing hip.

At the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Wie missed the cut, but she believes the swing changes are starting to feel more comfortable.

"Just with everything in general, I'm feeling healthier and healthier. My hip felt better in Arkansas than it has been the pass couple of weeks," Wie said Tuesday ahead of the U.S. Women's Open. "And I think I'm taking it day-by-day and taking it slowly."

Despite the swing overhaul, the hip is still a concern this week and beyond. Wie is deal with bursitis in her left hip. She recently got a second platelet-rich plasma injection in the hip, according to USA Today. Expect to see the kinesiology tape that adorned Wie's leg en route to the major breakthrough last year.

She's hoping that some of the good feelings from last year can carry her this time around as well.

"The amazing feeling that I felt on 18 (last year) was incredible and I feel extremely honored to be in this position and to be introduced that way, as the defending champion," she said. "It's truly an honor."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 07

PGA of America moves Grand Slam of Golf from Trump National L.A.

The shoes keep on dropping for Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, the PGA of America announced it will be moving its Grand Slam of Golf, a silly-season event featuring the major championship winners from the year, from Trump National Los Angeles.

"The PGA of America met with Donald J. Trump yesterday and the parties mutually agreed that it is in the best interest of all not to conduct the 2015 PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Trump National Los Angeles," said the association in a released statement. "The PGA of America is in the process of exploring options, including a venue for its annual PGA Junior League Golf Championship, and will comment further at the appropriate time."

Trump has come under fire for remarks he made about Mexican immigrants while announcing his 2016 Presidential bid. Since then, NBCUniversal, Univision, Macy's, NASCAR and ESPN have severed ties with Trump or canceled events at facilities he owns. 

In the wake of the initial fallout from Trump's comments, the real-estate developer told Golf Channel that golf "knows [he's] right," suggesting they back his political view. The PGA of America, PGA Tour, USGA and LPGA -- all of which have events scheduled on Trump-owned properties as soon as the end of July -- released a statement saying Trump's views did not reflect theirs. 

Now the question is if the International Federation of PGA Tours, which owns the WGC-Cadillac Championship played at Trump's Doral resort in Florida, and the PGA Tour, which runs the Puerto Rico Open played at his property on the island commonwealth, will move their events for the 2015-16 season.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 07

Power rankings: John Deere Classic

There's one week to go until the British Open, and the PGA Tour makes its final pre-Open stop at the John Deere Classic, played at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. The tournament typically has a somewhat underwhelming field, but two-time 2015 major winner Jordan Spieth maintained his commitment to the event which he won in 2013, elevating the status of this week's event.

Brian Harman is the defending champion here, breaking through for his first PGA Tour win last year. He's a good look this week, but here are our top five players:

1. Jordan Spieth -- Best player on the planet that can walk on two feet (sorry, Rory). He's playing this out of a sense of commitment to a tournament that gave him an exemption as an amateur. Site to his first PGA Tour win in 2013. Winning isn't the objective, but getting in contention is, like he did at Memorial before the U.S. Open.

2. Kevin Kisner -- Eventually, this guy is going to catch a break and win -- hopefully, in regulation. Kisner is playing far to well to fade him now.

3. Zach Johnson -- Zach Johnson has been on the medal stand here in five of his last six starts. This is a total horse-for-course pick and he leads the B-flight.

4. Steve Stricker -- Stricker has seen very limited action this year, but this event is a special week for him. Home to a near 59 of his, Stricker won here from 2009-11 and has been in the top 11 in the three years since. Just pick him and ignore the missed cut at Greenbrier.

5. Tony Finau -- We're going to keep nagging you about Tony Finau until you take notice. He was T-13 at Greenbrier for a seventh-consecutive top-25 finish. C'mon, man. Pick him.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 06

Spieth: British Open ‘dampened’ without defending champion McIlroy

Jordan Spieth found out on Monday about Rory McIlroy's ankle injury just like the rest of us: on social media.

McIlroy ruptured a ligament on the outside of his left ankle while playing soccer with friends on July 4. He's already withdrawn from this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and his British Open title defense next week is in doubt.

“I thought it was really unfortunate,” Spieth said, according to Golf Channel, from Zach Johnson's annual charity golf tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “Accidents happen, and I just wish for a speedy recovery. We all want him back as soon as possible.”

McIlroy won't make a decision about competing next week at St. Andrews until the end of this week, at the earliest. Spieth, who is chasing a third major in three tries this year, acknowledged that a missing McIlroy would take away from the championship at the Home of Golf.

“It kind of dampens it," Spieth said of McIlroy's absence. "You want the defending champion, much less the best player in the world at the event. You want all fields to be full strength no matter who it is. Losing the No. 1 player in the world for a major championship would be tough.”

However, were McIlroy to miss, Spieth would still look at the prospect of capturing the first three legs of a single-season Grand Slam the same way.

“For me, it doesn’t change anything,” Spieth said. “It’s still just as challenging. It’s still a major championship and there is a lot of unbelievable talent."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 06

ESPN moves its ESPY golf tournament from Trump National L.A.

You can now count ESPN among those organizations cutting ties with Donald Trump in the wake of offensive, inaccurate comments about Mexican immigrants.

ESPN announced Monday that it has moved its ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic from Trump National Los Angeles to Pelican Hill Golf Club in nearby Newport Beach, Calif. The tournament is set for July 14 ahead of the network's annual ESPY award show and benefits The V Foundation's Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund.

“We decided it was appropriate to change the venue, and are grateful for the opportunity to stage the event at Pelican Hill on short notice," said a statement released Monday by ESPN. 

"This charity outing benefits The V Foundation’s Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, providing resources for important cancer research for minority populations, including Hispanics and African Americans. Our decision reflects our deep feelings for our former colleague and support for inclusion of all sports fans. Diversity and inclusion are core values at ESPN and our decision also supports that commitment.”

ESPN joins the likes of NBC Universal, Macy's, Univision and NASCAR, all of which have severed ties with Trump in the wake of comments made as part of his Presidential campaign.

Trump-owned properties host or will host major golf events. Trump's Doral resort hosts the WGC-Cadillac Championship, while his Puerto Rico golf club hosts the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open. Trump National L.A. is still set to host the PGA of America's PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which hosts the year's major champions in a 36-hole tournament. Trump facilities will also host the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open, 2017 Senior PGA Championship and 2022 PGA Championship.

The PGA of America, PGA Tour, USGA and LPGA issued a joint statement on July 1 to distance themselves from Trump's remarks. However, none of the bodies has moved to remove their events from Trump venues.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 06

Fox News anchor calls Rory McIlroy a ‘leprechaun’, says she ‘can’t stand him’

Fair and balanced, right? Fox News is at it again, but this time they've decided to offer their slant on happenings in the golf world.

During the Monday edition of "Outnumbered," the update anchor was sharing details of Rory McIlroy's ankle injury he suffered on July 4 while playing soccer with friends. The injury may prevent McIlroy from defending his British Open crown, making him the first player since Ben Hogan in 1954 to miss that title defense. 

Once the update was done, an off-camera anchor weighed in on McIlroy, saying, "He's a leprechaun. I can't stand him."

Anchor Harris Faulkner moved on very quickly from that comment, but Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, who made the remark, owned it on Tuesday's edition of the show.

former MTV host and current Fox News panelist, Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery, took ownership of the comments on Tuesday.

“Yesterday at this time I used the word leprechaun to describe golfer Rory McIlroy," she said on the program.

"I love sports, I love golf, but I am not a fan of Rory’s. Mostly for the way he treated tennis great Caroline Wozniacki and discarded her like a piece of chewed gum when he broke her heart and broke off their engagement in a short phone conversation. That’s worse than breaking up on a Post-it. Now to be clear, neither Harris nor Jenna Lee used the term and I don’t want them to get the credit for it. I called Rory McIlroy a leprechaun and believe me I wanted to call him much worse.  As you know, some of my best friends are leprechauns and they also have tremendous sense of humor. Thank you.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 06

Rory McIlroy injures ankle playing July 4 soccer, likely out of the Open

(Rory McIlroy via AP)Rory McIlroy is doubtful for next week's British Open Championship after suffering an ankle injury while playing soccer with friends on July 4. 

McIlroy shared the news on Instagram, saying: "Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday. Continuing to assess extent of injury and treatment plan day by day. Rehab already started..... Working hard to get back as soon as I can."

The recovery time for such an injury can range wildy, with experts trotted out today that suggested 10-14 days or as long as six weeks. 

The four-time major winner was scheduled to compete in this week's Scottish Open, but officially withdrew on Monday. McIlroy told the European Tour he will not provide any further update on his condition until, at a minimum, "the end of the week at the earliest," according to a Tour statement.

Though the world No. 1 didn't rule out competing at St. Andrews, it seems very unlikely at this point. Were he unable to play, McIlroy would not get a chance to defend the title he won last year at Royal Liverpool. He'd be the first player since Ben Hogan in 1954 not to defend the Open title the next year. 

If McIlroy's recovery time extends well beyond a month, that would bring into doubt his PGA Championship defense in August at Whistling Straits. Beyond the remaining two majors this year, McIlroy is set to defend the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the win McIlroy sandwiched in between the Open and the PGA last summer.

After majors season ends, McIlroy then has the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. McIlroy could be healed by then, but the Ulsterman will have to deal with a bit of ring rust as he tries to make a run at the PGA Tour's season-long title before he shifts gears to potentially pursue yet another Race to Dubai title on the European Tour.

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Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 06

Robert Streb almost won at Greenbrier with sand wedge as his putter

Robert Streb almost won The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday playing the back nine at the Old White TPC with 13 clubs in the bag. You're allowed 14.

Streb broke his putter after the ninth hole in the final round, with the head of his Scotty Cameron flat stick coming off as he tossed it toward his caddie. Under the Rules of Golf, a player isn't allowed to replace a damaged club if that damage doesn't happen in the normal course of play, even if it happens innocently, as it did to Streb. So that meant Streb, who was 9 under par for the tournament at that point, needed to find a new putter for the back nine. He chose his sand wedge.

What a great choice.

Streb made five birdies in the final nine holes, including three of his first four, to get into a four-man playoff at 13-under-par 267. The first two birdies were a combined 4 feet of putts, but the birdie at 13 was nearly 27 feet and crucial birdies at 16 and 18 were no gimmes either.

For the playoff, Streb was allowed to put another putter he had in his locker into the bag. However, it didn't help. Streb missed the green long and left on the first playoff hole, the par-3 18th, and made a bogey that eliminated him. 

While Streb didn't get the win, he sure put on a show. Better still, he can get his regular putter fixed and have it back in the bag for his next start.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.