Wie struggles to worst score on PGA Tour

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:39 IST

Michelle Wie signed for her highest score on the PGA Tour, one that sent her to the bottom of the leaderboard Thursday at the Sony Open.

Wie struggles to worst score on PGA Tour

Honolulu:

Michelle Wie signed for her highest score on the PGA Tour, one that sent her to the bottom of the leaderboard Thursday at the Sony Open, and struggled to keep her voice steady while explaining what went wrong.Three double bogeys. Two three-putts. And late in a blustery round at Waialae, one shot was so off-line that her agent held up his leather-bound notebook to keep the ball from hitting him in the head, leaving a dent in the cover. Unable to stop the slide in gusts up to 55 kph (35 mph), Wie stumbled to a 9-over 79 that left her with virtually no hope of becoming the first woman in 61 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour. All that spared her from last place was Jimmy Walker, who shot 80 in the final group of a long day. "Today it was like, 'Wow,'" she said. "It's like, 'I can't believe I'm doing this bad.'" And as the 16-year-old got up from her chair, she finally figured out what would make it all go away. "I want some chocolate," she said. The course played nearly two shots over par, so it was no picnic for anyone. Rory Sabbatini birdied five of his last seven holes for a 5-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead over David Toms, KJ Choi, Charles Warren and Jeff Gove. Defending champion Vijay Singh had to birdie his last two holes for a 71. Many expected Wie to be somewhere around par, or at the very least with a chance to become the first female since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make it to the weekend on the PGA Tour. Instead, her fourth start on the PGA Tour - and third straight appearance in the Sony Open - quickly turned into her worst on a wind-swept day along the Pacific Ocean. She missed a 30-inch par putt on her third hole (No. 12), shot 42 over her first nine holes and ended her long day by missing a 6-foot birdie. Wie, who turned pro three months ago in a hotel behind the 10th green, had never shot higher than 75 in her three previous PGA Tour events, and the 79 matched her highest score in eight tournaments against the men. At age 13, she shot 79 in the second round of the Bay Mills Open on the Canadian tour. "It was just a combination of bad shots that turned out to be really bad, and just a lot of wasted strokes out there," Wie said. "It was not my day." Expectations were higher than ever that Wie would get to play all four rounds, having come close at the John Deere Classic in July and at the Casio World Open in Japan. Sabbatini and Toms said she was being too hard on herself. "I played Bay Hill a couple of years ago, I shot 89 the first round, and I was in the top 80 in the world ranking," Sabbatini said. "Is that embarrassing for the tournament director? I don't think so. Things like that happen. That's just part of competitive golf, and she'll get over it." Toms paid more attention to the crowd than the score. Fans were six-deep behind the 10th tee when Wie teed off, and they lined the fairways to see all 79 shots. "If it was dead calm today, do you think she would be doing that?" Toms said. "I think she would be playing well. I think it's a hard golf course, and you have to be there on every shot." Wie was there, ever so briefly. She blistered her opening tee shot down the middle into a strong wind, past Chris Couch and Camilo Villegas, both long hitters who went into the rough. Facing a 75-foot bunker shot on the par-3 11th, Wie nearly holed it, then she striped another tee shot down the middle. But that was as good as it got. After the three-putt bogey on the 12th, she took double bogey on No. 13 when her pitch failed to reach the green, and she could not get up-and-down. And after another solid drive on the 15th, she began shaking her head when her punch shot to keep the ball under the wind came up short and barely in a bunker. Spreading her legs wide - one foot in the sand, one on the grass - she dug down and blasted out over the green into another bunker, looking skyward in utter frustration as she took another double bogey. "I made one birdie," she said of a 15-foot putt on No. 3 that swirled into the cup, prompting her to raise both arms in mock victory. "I was like, 'Yay, finally made a birdie.' I knew I wasn't going to get to even par, but just try as hard as I can tomorrow." Two years ago, Wie shot 72-68 and missed the cut by one shot. Even in strong wind a year ago, she still managed a 75 in the opening round to keep people guessing whether she could make the cut. But now, even a junior at nearby Punahou School knows the odds are longer than a flight to the mainland. "Try and shoot 61," she said. Wie headed to the range and then home to contemplate a day she would rather forget. But even in her struggles, she said she would learn. And given the alternative, a 79 on the PGA Tour was still better than a day in school. "Exams today," Wie said. "I'd rather be here." (AP)



Topics : Golf
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