Michelle Wie watched her tee shot on the eighth hole during the third round of the LPGA McDonald's Championship yesterday.
Wie in range of first major
The Punahou teen sits in third place, just one shot off the lead
HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. » What better place for Michelle Wie to win her first LPGA tournament than at a major championship.
Today, 8:30 a.m.
The Golf Channel
The Honolulu teenager put herself in good position to do just that today when she tees it up in the final round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
A total of 27 players have captured an LPGA major for their first victory since the LPGA Tour was launched in 1950.
Wie shot 1-under-par 71 yesterday for a three-round total of 6-under 210 at Bulle Rock Golf Course, where she was second to winner Annika Sorenstam in this event a year ago.
She will have to outduel some outstanding players to claim the crown, but she was tied for third with yesterday's playing partners -- Korea's Shi Hyun Ahn and Mi Hyun Kim.
They trailed leaders Ai Miyazato of Japan and Pat Hurst by one shot.
"It was a very frustrating day," said Wie, 16. "I felt like I played very well, but I made a couple of stupid mistakes. But my game feels really solid. I'm very confident about my game. Tomorrow I want to just shoot a really good score and see what happens."
Korea's Jee Young Lee and two-time winner Se Ri Pak were tied for sixth with Lorena Ochoa of Mexico at 5-under 211. Karrie Webb was within striking distance at 4-under 212 (T9). Three-time defending champion Sorenstam was tied for 23rd at 1-under 215.
Wie will play in today's second-to-last twosome with Ahn.
If Wie is to win, she almost certainly will have to make more birdies at Bulle Rock's four par-5s today. Over the first three rounds, she has played 12 par-5s in a total of only 3 under par.
"I think a couple of par-5s owe me a lot," she said. " ... I want to play a lot lower on the par 5s and the par 4s and the par 3s, so we'll just see tomorrow. I'll try my hardest."
Perhaps she can take heart from the way she handled the 596-yard par-5 No. 11; the way she took advantage of her power to birdie the hole was textbook.
She crushed her drive 323 yards on the downwind hole.
"It felt really good," she said, smiling.
Wie hit a 5-wood about 20 yards short of the green.
She then lofted a lob wedge to 3 feet and sank the putt for a picture-perfect birdie.
"I think I played very strategically," she said.
To make a run today, Wie also will have to correct a problem she experienced yesterday of pulling some of her drives left. She hit seven of 14 fairways.
"I'm still feeling good, comfortable with my swing," she said. "It was just a couple of bad swings here or there, but I don't think it's a big problem."
As for her putting, which has come under scrutiny this week, including at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., where Monday she attempted unsuccessfully to qualify for the U.S. Open, Wie said she is getting used to reading the Bulle Rock greens.
Her round included 31 putts. She took 28 Friday and 32 in the first round.
The way Wie began yesterday it looked as if she was in for a wild roller-coaster ride.
She opened birdie-bogey-bogey-birdie-bogey.
"I made a good birdie on 1, and then I just had a couple of bad holes," Wie said. "It was very up and down."
She started to smooth things out after a bogey at No. 5, putting together a string of three consecutive pars. She sank a 25-foot putt for birdie at the ninth hole.
The birdie at No. 11 got her back to 6 under. She then made five consecutive pars before a bogey at the par-3 17th hole.
She used that bogey as motivation to close with a 10-foot birdie putt at the final hole.
"Well, I was pretty pissed off after 17," she said. "I was ready to bite someone's head off. So I think I kind of channeled that frustration into a good hole on 18 because I felt really good all day and I felt like this is what I need for tomorrow (Sunday)."
A large part of the second round wasn't completed until yesterday morning because of a long weather delay on Friday afternoon due to rain and thunderstorms. That forced the LPGA to start threesomes off both the first and 10th tees for the third round.
Wie caught a break with the inclement weather and finished Friday morning before the downpour. She shot 4-under 68 for a two-round total of 5-under 139, leaving her second behind playing partner Dorothy Delasin among those who were in the clubhouse.
Wie eventually was tied for fourth -- two shots behind leader Hurst -- after round two finally was completed. Seventy-six players at 2-over 146 or better made the cut.
Wie's 1-under 71 left her tied for 41st, seven strokes behind first-round leader Nicole Castrale, at the end of Thursday's opening round.
This is Wie's 10th appearance in an LPGA major championship.
She has notched five top 10s, among them a tie for third in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year's first major, in April.
Wie said she will benefit today from her experience at the Kraft Nabisco, as well as from her third-place finish at the Fields Open in Hawaii in February.
"It's (today) not going to be the first time I've been in contention going into the final round," she said. "I'm going to use all the experience that I have had and tomorrow (Sunday) is just another round of golf."
Wie also will compete in the final two LPGA majors of the year.
First will be the U.S. Women's Open Championship, June 29-July 2, at Newport (R.I.) Country Club.
The Aug. 3-6 Weetabix Women's British Open in Lancashire, England, is the year's fourth and final major.
Through three rounds at Bulle Rock, Wie has played the front nine in 1 under. She is 5 under on the back nine, which bodes well for a strong finish today.
Perhaps she will be a major championship winner by the time she plays in Rhode Island.