Wie displays innocence and defiance at Sony

Updated: January 17, 2006, 4:43 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

HONOLULU -- Oh, the innocence of youth.

Michelle Wie plopped herself into a comfy chair at the front of the Sony Open interview room, ready for the inquisition. She knew what to expect: Questions about those three double-bogeys in the first eight holes, the opening-round score of 79 and, of course, her unyielding desire to compete against the best male professional golfers in the world.

She already knew what to say. Those double-bogeys were history. The final score a thing of the past.

Michelle Wie
Harry How/Getty ImagesWie made seven birdies en route to a 2-under 68 in the second round.

And the desire to compete was stronger than ever.

So, she put on her happy face. Seemingly an eternal optimist, Wie spun things forward to the next day, taking only positives into her second-round tee time while leaving the negatives behind.

Asked what she needed to accomplish on Friday, she was blunt and forthright.

"Shoot 61 tomorrow," the 16-year-old said with a smile. "Might make the cut, you never know."

Never mind that the course record is 62. A small chuckle emanated from the congregation.

Oh, the candor of youth.

Let's not leave you in suspense. Wie did not pull a Babe Ruth. Her called shot fell short of its intended target. Instead, she rebounded to shoot an admirable score of 2-under 68 that left her at 7-over for the event and four strokes behind the cutline.

"I was very crushed yesterday about how bad I played," Wie said after her Friday round. "But I woke up this morning and I just tried to relax out there and just tried to have fun out there and was trying to make a lot of birdies. I think I achieved that."

Wie birdied the second hole on an overcast Honolulu afternoon, and the figurative storm sure looked like it was brewing, too. She bogeyed the fifth hole. And the sixth. And the seventh.

When it rains, it pours.

And then a funny thing happened on the way to the bottom of the leaderboard. Wie made birdie on the eighth hole. And another one on the ninth. She parred the 10th hole, but followed that with two more birdies on her next two holes for a four-stroke swing in a span of five holes.

Oh, the resiliency of youth.

"That felt awesome," Wie said. "The round yesterday helped me a lot today, just being able to have four birdies in five holes on a PGA golf course when it was howling wind. It just feels like, 'Wow, I actually accomplished something!' It feels great."

She finished with a pair of birdies, pars and bogeys over her final six holes and earned at least one more fan in the process.

"She was having fun out there today," said playing partner Camilo Villegas, who shot a tournament-best 64 on Friday to jump into a share of fourth place. "I told her yesterday on the 18th hole, I go, 'Michelle, we'll have a good one tomorrow. We'll have fun.' And she did. She got relaxed and it's a little bit easier to play like that."

Of course, one round of 68 -- the same score she carded in the second round of her first Sony Open two years ago -- won't be enough to silence the detractors.

Contrarians will contend she should stick to playing against the women, learn how to win, then maybe -- maybe -- she can resume playtime with the big boys.

It might be a good point. It's also one to which Wie simply sticks out her tongue and boldly stands her ground, stating, "I respect what they say. I mean, it kind of makes sense in a way. But, you know, this is what I want to do and what I want to do is most important.

"What I'm doing might be right, might be wrong, but it's what I want to do right now and it makes me happy, so I'm going to keep doing it."

Oh, the defiance of youth.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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