U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Wie wants to continue reading her own putts
NEWPORT, R.I. » Juli Inkster took only 105 putts when she won the U.S. Women's Open four years ago at Prairie Dunes, and caddie Greg Johnston played a big role in helping Inkster read some of the subtle breaks in the greens.
Now that he's on the bag with Michelle Wie, however, Johnston has gone mute.
That's by design.
Wie is trying to develop independence as a golfer by reading greens by herself, and some believe it has cost the 16-year-old from Hawaii in her last few tournaments. She missed six birdie putts inside 12 feet in her morning round of U.S. Open qualifying, and she took 12 more putts than LPGA Championship winner Se Ri Pak at Bulle Rock.
"The old saying is you learn from your mistakes," said B.J. Wie, her father. "On the LPGA Tour, I think some players are overly dependent on their caddies."
But there were two contrasting images from Bulle Rock.
On the par-5 eighth green, Wie paced off a 45-foot chip from the first cut that went over a ridge, studying the break the last 12 feet to the hole as Johnston stood on the far side of the green, keeping to himself. Earlier that day, Karrie Webb -- one of the best putters on the LPGA Tour -- crouched over a 10-foot par putt when she called over caddie Mike Paterson for a second opinion.
Is it hurting Wie to not taking any advice from her caddie, especially one of Johnston's caliber?
But the teenager isn't about to change now. She feels she will be a better putter in the long run if she learns to read greens by herself, and Wie has shown she is under no pressure to win immediately. This remains a work in progress.
"I feel like I can trust myself better," Wie said yesterday. "Obviously, if there's a really tricky putt, then I'm going to ask Greg to read it with me. But if I feel confident the way I'm putting, then I should just go with how I feel."
Daniel gets spot: Three Japan LPGA regulars and two South Korean players declined invitations to the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship yesterday, opening a spot in the field for Hall of Famer Beth Daniel.
Shiho Ohyama, Ji-Hee Lee, Sakura Yokomine, Akiko Fukushima and Hyun-Ju Shin turned down spots in the 64-player field next week at Hamilton Farm a day after qualifying through their top-30 positions in the controversial new world rankings.
Daniel, Il Mi Chung, Nancy Scranton, Mariam Nagl and Tina Barrett replaced the Asian players in the field based on their positions on the LPGA Tour money list.
Barrett, No. 58 on the money list, got in because No. 57 Marisa Baena had already received a spot Monday as the defending champion. Because only 25 of the 30 qualifiers from the world rankings accepted invitations, the top 34 players on the money list who had not already qualified got spots in the $2 million tournament.