Saturday, July 07, 2012

Michelle Wie had a good round

KOHLER, Wis. ยป This is why there was so much hype when she was a kid, why PGA Tour players stopped to watch her swing, why people said Michelle Wie was going to rewrite the history book.

She is capable of making golf look easy. She hasn't done it often this year, or often enough over the years to silence her critics, but she did it in the second round of the 67th U.S. Women's Open on Friday.

Wie made the 6,800-yard Blackwolf Run, lengthened by some 500 yards since 1998, look 500 yards too short.

The willowy 6-footer set up six of her seven birdies with wedge approach shots en route to a 6-under-par 66, her best-ever round at the Women's Open and the lowest score, by two shots, at this championship.

"Obviously, it went well today," Wie said. "It was just fun out there. I just went out and tried to be patient and, you know, when putts start dropping in it makes for a low round."

Halfway through the championship, Wie trailed Suzann Pettersen of Norway by one shot. Pettersen shot a 68 and moved to the top of the leaderboard at 5-under 139.

Wie started on the 10th tee and birdied four of her first six holes, every one with a wedge in her hands. She hit a lob wedge to 15 feet on the par-5 10th, a sand wedge to 4 feet on the par-4 11th, her 52-degree wedge to 10 feet on the par-4 14th and a pitching wedge to 15 feet on the par-4 15th.

"Yesterday, I had a lot of 40-foot putts, 50-foot putts," she said. "Today on the back nine I had a lot of putts within 15 feet. That really helps. It's the difference between lagging them and trying to make them."

On the front nine (her back), Wie birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 6 and bogeyed No. 2.

"I'm pretty stoked to be back in contention and honestly not have to worry about the cut line," she said. "It feels pretty good. I'm looking forward to a good weekend."

Though Wie is only 22, she's been in the public eye for a decade. She was the youngest player to Monday-qualify for an LPGA event at 12 years, 4 months, 14 days and had competed in a handful of PGA Tour events by the time she was 16.

Tom Lehman called Wie's swing "flawless" and Judy Rankin said of her, "I don't know anybody in the game of golf, male or female, that at the age of 14 was a better player than Michelle Wie."

A series of disappointments and questionable career decisions derailed Wie's early momentum, and she was criticized for everything from playing against men to juggling her career and college.

"I didn't really think about it too much," she said. "I'm really grateful for all the opportunities that I have had and all the accomplishments I did when I was younger. But I can't really live in the past.

"What I did is what I did, and I'm really looking forward to what I'm going to do tomorrow and Sunday and in the future."

Wie graduated from Stanford this year but has struggled with her game, having missed the cut in six of her last eight starts. Her best finish in 2012 is a tie for 33rd at the Sybase Match Play Championship.

"Nothing really has changed since the beginning of this year," she said. "I just kind of kept with the same stuff, and I felt like it was coming for the last couple of weeks.

"I have to say it felt pretty good to see my name on that leaderboard. I kind of like that spot up there."
Wie had 13 one-putt greens and needed just 23 putts, one day after taking 35. Pettersen played behind her and had a front-row seat for the fireworks.

"I know she's been struggling this year, but I must say playing behind her I don't think I've ever seen her make as many putts as she did today," Pettersen said. "She was fist-pumping every putt she looked at.
"Michelle is awfully talented and has a lot of game. I think you should give her a break. She just graduated after four years in college. That's pretty impressive to do that on the sideline of trying to compete out here."
Sixty-five players survived the cut at 5-over 149 and will play on the weekend. Among the notables who won't be around are Natalie Gulbis, two-time Women's Open champion Juli Inkster and Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods.

Wie has been working with coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, mostly on the mental side of the game.
"I don't know if anyone gave up on me or not," she said. "I'm sure some did and some didn't. But I never gave up on myself and today was a good reminder to myself that I can do it and I still have it."

***

[7/7/12]  And not so good..

Honolulu's Michelle Wie returned to all-too-familiar form today, shooting a 6-over 78 to fall out of contention at the U.S. Women's Open held on the Championship Course of Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.

The Punahou School graduate shot a stunning 66 on Friday to move into a tie for second entering today's third round, but drifted down to a tie for 13th at 2-over 218. She trails third-round leader Na Yeon Choi by 10 shots. The South Korean bettered Wie's second round by one shot. The 65 dropped her to 8-under 208, leaving her six shots clear of countryman Amy Yang, who is in at 2-under 214 after firing a 68 today.

Wie carded back-to-back bogeys to start her round and never recovered. The recent Stanford graduate had only one birdie after making seven on Friday five bogeys and one double at the par-4 11th. Wie's average round this year has been a 75. That's why the 66 on Friday was so shocking. Wie has earned a little less than $20,000 this season on the LPGA Tour. She is currently 40th in the world rankings.

[7/8/12] And even worse..

Honolulu's Michelle Wie continued her downward spiral today at the U.S. Women's Open, closing with an 8-over par 80 that left her tied for 35th at 10-over 298. She was tied for second after a second-round 66, but was 14 over par for the weekend.

As for Wie, she began her day bogeying five of the first seven holes. After five straight pars, she tripled the par-3 13th, bogeyed the par-4 15th and birdied the closing hole, the only red number she had on her card.
Wie has had a disappointing year and has dropped to 40th in the world rankings as a result.

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