Dramatic finish at Turtle Bay a warmup for Fields Open
Michelle Wie joins the fray for this week's LPGA stop at Ko Olina
Now comes the fun part.
As well as the SBS Open at Turtle Bay played out, not having Michelle Wie on the premises left the LPGA Tour's opening act a little flat.
The Golf Channel tried to get Morgan Pressel to do a Take Two during a Friday evening interview after Pressel had questioned Wie's free pass to last year's Women's U.S. Open during a recent Fields Open in Hawaii conference call.
Pressel said last Friday she didn't mean anything by it to Wie personally, but stood by her remarks like a good soldier. Veteran Sherri Turner softly chided Pressel during a Thursday interview for her sometimes stream of consciousness and even LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens made mention of Pressel's penchant for telling it like it is.
Or, at least how she sees it.
A reporter gave Paula Creamer a chance to ease around her remarks made last year at the ADT Championship that Annika Sorenstam's line of sight might need an adjustment. But Creamer would have none of it.
"When I play against her, she is competition," Creamer said. "It didn't matter who was standing there. What I saw is what I saw. I think it comes down to that. Annika is just another person in the field."
Unfortunately for local golf fans, Sorenstam thought the best way to prepare for 2006 was snow skiing in Montana. Granted, she is the best golfer walking the LPGA Tour fairways, but she might want to look at the golf pages of her local sports section and take note of the competition.
There are several in the field of 132 teeing it up Thursday at Ko Olina in the Fields Open who are eyeing that top spot to see how it would fit on the mantel.
Creamer got off to a stop-and-go start that saw the SBS Open get away with a triple-bogey six at the unlucky No. 13 during Thursday's opening round.
The resulting 74 left her in a tie for 67th place with 14 others, including Lorena Ochoa, who went 12 under over the weekend to eventually work herself into a three-gal pal playoff. Creamer wasn't quite as comfortable on the Turtle Bay Resort greens, but still fashioned a 67 on Friday and a 70 Saturday to finish in a tie for -- there's that number again -- 13th at 5 under for the tournament.
Pressel went two shots better to work her way into a tie for fifth at 7-under 209. By comparison, Wie managed a 6-under 210 last year that left her in a tie for second with Cristie Kerr, just two shots off the pace of Jennifer Rosales. The conditions were tougher in 2005 with the renowned Turtle Bay winds a howling success, but the scores are close enough to force a bet or two at the water cooler.
Pressel made more 6-footers for par last week than anyone on the grounds.
A birdie putt for Pressel is often bold and beautiful, even as it streaks by the hole. If Tom Watson could putt a 5-footer for par like Pressel, he'd still be on the PGA Tour.
This youngster is already off to a better start than 2005 LPGA rookie of the year Creamer, who finished in a tie for 40th at last year's SBS Open with rounds of 73, 73 and 74 for a 4-over 220 worth $5,012. Pressel earned $33,952, thanks in part to all those par-saving putts.
And let's not forget the Korean connection that was well-established over the weekend. At this point, Creamer and Pressel should be more worried about the bevy of South Koreans who made the cut last week, including eventual winner Joo Mi Kim and Soo Young Moon. Moon returned to the LPGA after a nine-month absence to finish tied for second with Ochoa.
Both performed well enough to draw even with Kim in regulation, only to lose in a playoff. Ochoa went out at the first hole after Moon and Kim made their difficult birdie chances, and Ochoa's tentative putt went wide right.
Moon soon followed suit, thanks to a pressure-packed approach by Kim that cozied up to the pin like it was its best friend.
Now Wie enters the fray this week with more expectations than she can possibly meet. It's tough to be a high school junior one Monday and a professional golfer the next. Serving two masters is often a recipe for disaster, but look for Wie to be right there on Saturday with most of the world's best.
The tour began last week at Turtle Bay, but the fun starts this week at Ko Olina.