Share this article

print logo

Wie scrambles her way to even par; Struggles on par-5s cost her some strokes

The 18th hole was indicative of Michelle Wie's first round at the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Thursday. An errant drive was followed by a calm scramble, culminating with a short par putt that sealed an even-par 72 at Locust Hill Country Club.

"I had a couple of pretty interesting shots coming back, especially the last couple," Wie said. "Hopefully I'll hit more fairways tomorrow and get some shots closer to the hole. Overall it was a pretty scrambling round, but I'm glad that I finished at even par. Hopefully tomorrow I can open it up for more birdies."

All in all, it was an OK day, but not quite up to expectations. Kind of like Wie's career to date.

This event is Wie's 24th major. She has eight top-10 finishes, including second place in the 2005 LPGA Championship.

Wie played in her first LPGA event at age 12, beginning a long line of projections that pointed to numerous major championships in her future.

As a 14-year-old competing against male pros, Wie shot a two-under 68 in the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii. The score remains the lowest round any woman has ever posted in a PGA Tour event, but she still missed the cut by one stroke.

On Oct. 5, 2005, Wie announced she was going pro a week before her 16th birthday, gaining major sponsorships from Sony and Nike.

From 2005 to 2007, Wie continued to be a prominent figure in the LPGA, but missed cuts and accusations of faking a wrist injury to avoid criticism after a poor performance in an LPGA event followed her. However, the results got better for Wie once she became a full-time LPGA Tour member in 2008. A year later she was a captain's pick for team USA at the Solheim Cup and won her first LPGA event at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, edging Paula Creamer by two strokes.

Wie added a second LPGA victory at the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open and finished last season ninth on the tour money list with $888,017.

This year Wie sits 13th on the money list with $318,011, is ranked No. 10 in the world and has placed in the top 10 in three of her eight tournaments.

In an era when college athletes routinely leave college early to turn pro, Wie has decided to go to school while playing professionally. She hopes to finish her education at Stanford University next March with a degree in communications. If all goes as planned, Wie's degree will come in 4 1/2 years despite her full LPGA schedule of 20 events per year.

"It's been tough," Wie said last month. "It's been very challenging to get my work done, and to stay on task. But I'm proud of myself."

Wie is currently on break from school and said that her status as a student will have no affect on her play this weekend.

"She has just turned 21 and her education is important for both her and her family," said Wie's caddie of 20 months, Brendan Woolley.

Wie's up-and-down day Thursday placed her six shots off the lead heading into the second round. She had three birdies and three bogeys, but failed to capitalize on the par-5s, despite being the second longest driver in the LPGA with an average of 273.8 yards per drive. Two of Wie's bogeys came on par-5s.

"I didn't do well on the par-5s at all today and lost a lot of strokes there," Wie said. "Tomorrow I have to be able to take advantage of the holes that you can make birdie on. There are a lot of tough holes out here and hopefully I can make more birdies tomorrow."

e-mail: rmarfurt@buffnews.com