Wie a shot off lead in LPGA Championship
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ann Miller
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. — For all everyone has to say about Michelle Wie, and it seems as if anyone with a remote interest in golf has something to say, there is this as she goes into today's final round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship a shot out of first:
The best female golfers in the world have played seven rounds at Bulle Rock Golf Course over the last two years and only one — Wie, the 16-year-old Punahou prodigy — has broken par all seven times. Somehow, she always finds a way.
She barely did it yesterday, firing a 1-under 71 despite needing 1 hour and 47 minutes to get her first par. Wie hung on by her painted fingernails through a roller coaster start, then tenaciously dug in to keep herself in contention at the second major of the year.
She plays in the next-to-last group today starting at 8:32 a.m. Hawai'i time. Co-leaders Pat Hurst (72) and Ai Miyazato (69) are in the final group with a score of 7-under 209. They are one up on Wie, Shi Hyun Ahn and Mi Hyun Kim, who played together yesterday afternoon and shot identical scores.
In March, Wie went into the final round of the year's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, three shots out of the lead. She finished a shot out of the playoff won by Karrie Webb. Wie has five top-5 finishes in her last seven starts and finished second here a year ago.
Wie didn't play well enough to win yesterday. She did play well enough to give herself a chance today.
"It was a pretty frustrating day out there," Wie said. "I felt like I played very well, but I didn't. I kind of made a couple stupid mistakes out there. But my game feels very solid right now. I'm very confident about my game and tomorrow I want to just shoot a really good score and see what happens."
Hurst held the lead alone, two ahead of Wie, after the second round was completed yesterday morning. A series of thunderstorms delayed play for more than 5 hours Friday and 70 players had to complete their round. Wie finished before the Friday storm with a 68, one of just 24 sub-par scores.
There were only 17 sub-par scores in yesterday's third round, watched by a crowd of nearly 30,000 — the total of some Hawaiian Open weeks. Most everybody came to watch Wie, who attracted by far the largest, most diverse crowd on a picturesque weekend day.
She walked to the first tee with her gallery six deep and lining the length of the fairway. Even the Hall of Fame threesome of Webb, Se Ri Pak and three-time defending champion Annika Sorenstam couldn't come close to her drawing power.
Wie had something for everyone. She immediately birdied the first hole from 15 feet, then yanked her second drive into the water hazard — setting off a mad search — and took bogey. She missed one fairway all Friday and the first two yesterday. Then she three-putted two of the next three holes, drilling a 12-foot birdie putt in between.
A deft chip led to her first par, at 4:48 p.m. EST, and by the seventh hole she began to find a rhythm. She treated a huge crowd at the ninth green to a 30-foot birdie putt to get back to even for the day and 5-under for the tournament. A few minutes later Hurst four-putted to drop from 9-under to 7-under.
Wie blasted to within a stroke on the 596-yard, par-5 11th, crushing her drive 320 yards, then hitting a 5-wood to within 20 yards of the green. She wedged her way to within 3 feet for birdie, but erased that on the 17th when she missed a 3-footer coming back.
"It was just a bad putt," Wie said, not even contemplating an excuse. "I just kind of pulled it to the left. I just didn't hit it good. It was a BAD putt."
She took out her frustration on the final hole, making birdie from 12 feet to give the leaders a little something extra to think about.
"I was pretty (ticked) off after 17. I was ready to bite someone's head off," Wie said, grinning. "So I think I kind of channeled that frustration into a good hole on 18 because I felt really good all day and I felt like this is what I need for tomorrow."
After signing autographs, Wie walked into the media room, cracked her knuckles and told everyone she was hungry. Then she said she had a score "in my head that I want to shoot" today and wouldn't give up the number.
"I can't tell you," she teased. "You'll see tomorrow."
Wie will be the first to tell you that she brings something new to the course every day. And, the way she sees it, Bulle Rock owes her one after her trials and tribulations the last three days. She has salvaged a decent score — better than most — each round but knows she has left opportunities on the course, including 15 missed putts inside 12 feet.
Wie isn't mad, she just wants to get even, particularly with the par-5 holes, which she has played in just 3-under par.
"I think this year I feel a lot more confident with my game and I'm feeling like this golf course owes me a good round," she said. "I'm feeling really good about it."
Annika Sorenstam shot a 75 that included a two-stroke penalty on the second hole for moving a replaced divot next to her ball. Sorenstam said she made a mistake moving it, but didn't realize it until Karrie Webb told her. "I was either going to feel bad for calling it on her or feel bad if she won by one and whoever finished second and I didn't say something," explained Webb, who birdied three straight holes on the back to rebound to even par for the day. "So that's why I said something."
Hawai'i could see its third Delasin soon. Dorothy has represented Turtle Bay for nearly two years and sister Divina recently played in the Big Break series on the North Shore. Brother Arsenio Jr., a high school senior in San Francisco, is interested in attending UH-Hilo and playing golf. Dorothy's caddie, Clint Begay, was a Vulcan.
Delasin, who was a shot out of the lead after the second round, shot 81 yesterday. Morgan Pressel, who shot the second round's low score (67), had a 79.
The cut came at 2-over 146 after the second round, with 76 players staying on for the final two rounds. Former Rainbow Wahine Cindy Rarick missed the cut, finishing a round of 79 yesterday for a 155 total.
Reach Ann Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.