Wie trades books for clubs
With one eye on her Stanford grades and another on next week's first major, Honolulu's Michelle Wie will try to stay focused tomorrow when she tees off in the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International.
It is Wie's second LPGA event since she graduated from Q-School last fall. The Punahou graduate was second to Angela Stanford in the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay. This is her 49th LPGA start.
Wie tees off at 9:40 a.m. Hawai'i time tomorrow (first tee) and 3:50 a.m. Friday (10th tee). Her playing partners are Vicky Hurst and amateur Carlota Ciganda, a freshman at top-ranked Arizona State playing on a sponsor's exemption.
Ciganda won the 2004 and 2008 European Championships and was 2007 British Amateur champion. Hurst, last year's Duramed Futures Tour Player and Rookie of the Year, leads the LPGA in driving average as a rookie, at 261.3 yards.
The field at Papago Golf Course includes top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, who won by seven shots last year. All 10 of the world's top-ranked female golfers are playing, and 79 of the top 80 on this year's money list will be there.
Wie finished her fourth quarter at Stanford this month, and received her grades yesterday, pronouncing it "a great morning" during her press conference. Asked if she got all A's, she said no.
"Well, not quite," Wie said, "but I took an engineering class that I thought I was going to fail, nanotechnology, and I did pretty well in it, so I'm happy."
Wie was again vague about her schedule, saying she was trying to find a balance between not getting too tired and not "under playing."
She spoke optimistically about playing well enough the next six months to make the Solheim Cup team, and finally winning on the LPGA tour after 14 top-10 finishes.
She was asked if she was surprised she had not won.
"I don't want to look at it that way," said Wie, 19. "A lot of the tournaments were when I was 12, 13, 14, something like that. I think it's bound to happen. I'm working hard at it. Whether it's 49, 50 or whatever, it will mean that much more to me."
Former University of Hawai'i golfer Cindy Rarick, now a part-time player who lives in the Phoenix area, is also playing this week. The tournament will be broadcast on The Golf Channel, beginning at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Kraft Nabisco Championship is next for Wie. It starts next Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. It will be Wie's fifth start at the LPGA major, but first since 2006. She has finished third, fourth, 14th and ninth — when she played in the final group as a 13-year-old.
The first three rounds of that tournament will be shown on ESPN2, with the final round (April 5) on CBS.