Michelle Wie makes some noise with 68
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Michelle Wie's fame came mostly from her prodigy status, especially her long-hitting prowess. But now, at 23, Wie has figured out she can't always blast her way to success.
That's particularly true on a waterlogged Locust Hill Country Club course with such punitive rough. This is one of those places where sometimes less is more.
"I just try not to be greedy on this golf course," Wie said Saturday after a second-round 68 put her at even par 144 and tied for 14th place at the LPGA Championship. "You know, I only hit driver twice today. I hit a couple more drivers yesterday, which cost [me].
"I love hitting my driver. I've tried a lot of different things on this golf course over the past couple of years. If you're feeling great [on] some holes, it does work, but sometimes it will nip you in the butt. So you just gotta just step back; I had a lot of 5-irons, 6-irons today."
Wie's score of 68 tied Inbee Park as the best of Saturday. Wie enters Sunday's 36-hole finale tied in a large group that includes past champions Shanshan Feng, Laura Davies, and Se Ri Pak.
Wie shot a 4-over 76 in Friday's first round, although she didn't think she played that poorly during the constant rain in the afternoon. With a little less of the wet stuff Saturday morning, she had a stronger showing.
She finished her second round just past noon, which means she has plenty of time to relax before Sunday's 36-hole finale.
"Go to bed really early, get off your feet," Wie said of her plans for the remainder of Saturday. "I actually am very grateful that I have the rest of the afternoon just to do nothing."
Wie definitely wants to do something in these next two months to earn a place on the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will take on Europe in August. Wie played in the Cup in 2009 and '11 but currently is 13th on the points list.
The 12-member U.S. team will be comprised of the top eight in Solheim points, the next two highest in the world rankings, and then two captain's selections.
Like current LPGA Championship leader Morgan Pressel, who is also trying to rally for a Solheim Cup spot, Wie said she can't worry too much about the points. She said she does not check her place on the list, preferring not to know the specifics. Suffice it to say, though, she's aware she has work to do.
Wie had reason for optimism coming into the LPGA Championship, as she got her only top-10 finish in 2013 -- a tie for ninth -- last week at the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey. But she's also missed five cuts.
She had higher expectations of 2013 than what she's been able to achieve. But the most important part of the year is still ahead of her.
"I put in a lot of work over the offseason," Wie said. "I'm just being patient and just waiting for my opportunity to come."
For the first two rounds here, Wie played in a group with 16-year-old Lydia Ko, who said Wie has long been her idol. In fact, Ko asked for Wie's autograph at the U.S. Women's Open last year. Wie appreciates the kid's adulation and friendliness.
"I've played with her a couple of times," Wie said. "She's so talented, and she's a fun person to play with. So I got lucky I got to play with her this week."
Wie wasn't always so warmly welcomed when she was a teenager playing LPGA events. Part of that was her propensity to sometimes verbalize grandiose goals that irritated older players.
But after a decade-plus in a spotlight that certainly has had its humbling moments, Wie usually sounds as prosaic as her fellow pros. Work hard, be patient, don't be greedy, wait for opportunities. That's as by the book as it comes.
Yet Wie is still a presence in golf, a name that resonates with spectators even when her results have been pedestrian. Anyone who thinks it wouldn't benefit the LPGA to have Wie win a major is in utter denial about the power of celebrity.
Her best finish at the LPGA Championship is a tie for second in 2005, when she was 15. Her best U.S. Women's Open finish is a tie for third, which she did in 2006.
Since then, she has gotten her degree from Stanford, along with her two LPGA titles [in 2009 and '10]. She went 3-0-1 in the 2009 Solheim Cup, won by the United States, and 1-3-1 in the 2011 Cup, won by Europe.
With double points for the Solheim Cup awarded for finishes at majors, this week's event could be a big boost if Wie performs well Sunday. She'll need a better showing than she's had the past three years when the LPGA Championship was at Locust Hill. Wie's finishes during that stretch: tied for 19th, tied for 72nd and a missed cut.
"You have to earn everything you get," Wie said of this course.
She's learned that's also true of her playing career in general.