Believe it or not, it was more than a decade ago that 12-year-old Michelle Wie made her LPGA debut, missing the cut at the 2002 Takefuji Classic after earning her way into the field as a Monday qualifier. It’s been Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride since then, with more ups and downs than the stock market the last few years. And believe it or not, in the last half-decade, Wie’s record in the U.S. Women’s Open has included two missed cuts, a “did not qualify,” a withdrawal and T-55 last year. Her last flirtation with success at the national championship was T-3 in 2006 at the age of 16.
After a 74 on Thursday, it looked like this might be another short week for Wie, who has six missed cuts and a first-round elimination in the Sybase Match play so far this season. Her scoring average coming into the Women’s Open was 75.08, No. 133 on tour. But, playing the back nine first, she birdied four of the first six holes, made her lone bogey when she blocked her second shot on the par-5 second hole, and was spectacular on the greens — her Achilles heel — with just 23 putts (including 13 one putts) while hitting only 11 greens after needing 35 putts in the opening round when she hit 15 greens.
The tour has been a rocky ride for Wie, who recently graduated from Stanford University. Despite two LPGA wins in her career, she has fallen far short of the expectations set so high when she was playing against the men as a 14-year-old and missing the cut by just one stroke at the SONY Open.
Now, after four and a half years earning a Stanford degree, Wie is seemingly set to focus on golf full time. She’s turns 23 in September and is no longer the wunderkind on tour.
Two more days like today, and she will have her first major championship.