Michelle Wie played at Canoe Brook Country Club yesterday. She will try to qualify for the U.S. Open there Monday.
Leadbetter likes Wie’s chances for U.S. Open
The noted instructor watched as the Hawaii phenom practiced at the course where she will try to qualify
SUMMIT, N.J. » Michelle Wie has a good chance of becoming the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Open if she can work out the kinks in her swing tempo over the next few days, instructor David Leadbetter said yesterday.
Wie practiced on the range and then played nine holes on the Canoe Brook Country Club's North Course in preparation for Monday's 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
All the 16-year-old Punahou student has to do to make the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., is finish in the top 18 in the field of 153 players.
"She just qualified on the practice tee," Leadbetter quipped after working on Wie's swing for more than an hour. "I think she's got a decent shot at it. She is confident. She had a very good outing in Korea a few weeks ago and she is swinging pretty well overall."
Wie refused to speak either before or after playing.
"She has to focus on her preparation," said her father, B.J., who walked the course with his daughter, wife Bo, Leadbetter and caddie Greg Johnston.
Leadbetter focused much of his attention on Wie's tempo. It has a tendency to quicken during her swing, and that leads to a tendency to pull the ball left.
Playing in front of less than a dozen spectators, Wie yanked the ball left on the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh holes. Her frustration seemed to peak at the 212-yard, par-3 seventh, where she took five shots off the tee. The first finished on the adjacent sixth fairway. Three of the next four landed short and left in a greenside bunker. The other went over the green.
"Give her a day or so," Leadbetter said. "She hit a lot of good shots, too."
Wie actually hit several outstanding shots. She put her second shot on the first hole 10 feet from the pin. She missed the birdie putt.
After taking a mulligan on the downwind, downhill, 572-yard, par-5 second hole, Wie hit her second drive 327 yards, then hit the green from 245 yards.
"I got that in my bag," quipped Stew Robertson, 71, of North Brunswick. "Then I wake up from my dream and I don't have it."
Wie also reached the 501-yard, par-5 eighth hole, which was playing into the wind, in two.
Leadbetter called the North and South courses at Canoe Brook classic old courses that aren't "tricked up." Hitting the small greens will yield birdies, he said.
Michelle Wie worked on her swing with instructor David Leadbetter yesterday in New Jersey.
Wie has the game and personality to make golf history, he said.
"It really is incredible," he said. "No way a few years ago would you have ever dreamed of a 16-year-old girl having the opportunity of hopefully getting into the men's U.S. Open. She is just special. That's all I can tell you.
"Her mind-set, not only her great athletic ability and great golf swing. She has an unbelievable mind. She really thrives on pressure. She likes the pressure-cooker situation. Her game seems to get better the more the pressure is on."
The atmosphere Monday is expected to be zoo-like, with many people coming to see if Wie can beat the field of PGA Tour professionals and club pros.
Leadbetter said the commotion won't bother her.
In her recent tournament in South Korea, she played as cell phones rang and police sirens chased fans off a local road.
"Nothing will be worse than that," Leadbetter said. "This will be a walk in the park."
Wie's first day at Canoe Brook was calm. She arrived at 11:45 a.m., had lunch with club pro Greg Lecker, then went to the driving range.
As she loosened up on the far right, teenagers Jake McIntyre of Chatham and Mike Sawyer of Summit hit balls prior to their round.
As Wie was about to start hitting, they walked away.
McIntyre took out a camera and videotaped Wie's swing.
Asked why he didn't stay and hit ball near Wie, Sawyer stated the obvious.
"It would be embarrassing," he said.
If Wie finds her swing tempo by Monday, a couple of pros also might be embarrassed.
"It's not going to be easy," Leadbetter said. "It's a very good group of players, good tour players and some good club professionals. She is going to have to play well. There are only 18 spots. We're confident."
UH alum Rarick faces DUI charge
CORNING, N.Y. » Cindy Rarick, a University of Hawaii alumna who has won more than $2 million in her career on the LPGA Tour, was charged with driving while intoxicated during the Corning Classic.
Police Lt. Jeffrey Spaulding said Rarick, winner of the 1987 Corning Classic, was arrested downtown late Saturday. Spaulding said a plainclothes officer noticed that Rarick was driving without headlights and not wearing a seat belt just after 11 p.m. She was arrested 10 minutes later.
Spaulding said a uniformed officer stopped Rarick's car and performed field sobriety tests that indicated she was intoxicated.
The 47-year-old Rarick was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent, refusal to submit to a breath test, operating without headlights and driving without a seat belt.
Spaulding said officers took Rarick to the Corning Police Department and later released her. She is scheduled to appear in Corning City Court on June 22.
Rarick joined the LPGA Tour in 1985 and has won five tournaments. Her last victory came at the 1991 Northgate Computer Classic. In this year's Corning Classic, which finished on Sunday, Rarick missed the cut after shooting consecutive rounds of 74 on Thursday and Friday.