Wie waiting for breakthrough
|||No longer a prodigy, her game continues to grow|
By Doug Ferguson
By Doug Ferguson
PALM DESERT, Calif. — Michelle Wie celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday. Next up is an anniversary.
One year ago at the Samsung World Championship, the 6-foot teenager from Hawai'i steadied her nerves and ripped a 3-wood down the middle of the fairway to embark on a professional career that was loaded with expectations and perhaps more hype than any player in LPGA Tour history.
Expectations remain high. The scrutiny is still severe.
And one year later, the trophy case remains bare.
"Every week I go into, I want to win," Wie said at Bighorn Golf Club, where her family has bought a second home. "I'm not going to force it to happen, because it will happen."
But with each tournament — 14 as a pro, plus a U.S. Open qualifier — the question of "when" slowly is shifting to "if."
Strangely enough, the Samsung World Championship with its 20-player field and no cut is the only LPGA Tour event where Wie failed to earn a paycheck. She finished in fourth place, 10 shots behind Annika Sorenstam, but an improper drop in the third round that was pointed out a day later led to Wie being disqualified.
Despite not winning over the past 12 months, Wie came within a whisker of capturing three majors.
She had a 25-foot eagle chip to win the Kraft Nabisco, missing a playoff when she failed to get up-and-down. She was tied for the lead on the 16th hole of the LPGA Championship until her wedge found a greenside bunker leading to bogey. And she was tied at the U.S. Women's Open until making bogey on the 13th hole in the final round, closing with all pars to miss a playoff by two shots.
"She has played extremely well on the LPGA Tour, and I think it's been a very good learning year for her," Karrie Webb said. "Even though her results may have been similar to last year, she's actually been in contention in the last round, rather than having a very good last round and finishing third or second or fourth. ... She should be very proud of the year she has had for someone so young."