Michelle Wie is expected to be followed by one of the tournament's largest galleries this week.
Wie wiser this time
She hopes lessons learned last year will help her at the John Deere Classic
"This hole was carved out of the forest, and while short on length, it is long on danger."
-- D.A. Weibring, designer, on the 367-yard hole No. 6 at TPC Deere Run.
SILVIS, ILL. » Michelle Wie learned that "long on danger" part the hard way.
She was cruising toward making history a year ago at the John Deere Classic, safely and steadily sailing under the cutline on Friday at 4-under with just four holes to go in the second round. A few more pars -- heck, she could probably even afford a bogey -- and the 15-year-old would be the first female to make the cut at a PGA Tour event in 60 years.
JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
When: Tomorrow through Sunday
TV: USA (Tomorrow-Friday, 10 a.m.-noon HST) and ABC (Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. HST).
Then, faster than you can say bunker, bunker, triple-putt, Wie had double-bogeyed No. 6 (her 15th hole of the day). A stray tee shot on No. 7 led to another stroke surrendered, and she was all but done. Birdie-birdie on 8 and 9 was not to be, and Wie had the weekend to think about it.
She finished 70-71--141. One-under par, but done for the tourney two days early.
Starting tomorrow, the Punahou student tries to make the cut among the men here again as the JDC first round gets underway. She was asked yesterday to reflect on the collapse of a year ago.
Now a worldly and wizened old lady of 16, Wie blamed the indiscretion of youth. She admits to getting a little greedy, trying to go further below par when a conservative tack would have ensured making the cut.
"I made a couple of bad decisions coming into the final holes, but I was only 15. I can make mistakes when I'm 15," she said. "Hopefully I learned a lot from those mistakes that I made last year, and hopefully I won't do them this year."
In 2005 here, there was a lot of talk about Wie not only making the cut, but contending for the tournament championship and the British Open slot that goes with it. Some of it came from her.
You don't hear that this time around, but more people seem to believe Wie will actually make the cut than last summer.
That's an accurate reflection of where her game is now, and JDC defending champion Sean O'Hair is a believer.
"To be quite frank with you, I think she'll make the cut this week," he said after practicing with her yesterday.
Wie is still capable of spectacular shots (reference the miracle from the muck 8-iron at the U.S. Women's Open two weeks ago). But she seems to be using better judgment on when to try them.
Same on the green, where Wie is now more willing to pick her spots to go for birdies, often choosing a safe lag for par instead.
That may have worked against her chances to win down the stretch at the Open but helped her finish tied for third. With five players all bunched within a stroke of the lead and running out of holes, she needed birdies, not pars, to win. She putted error-free, but the long ones wouldn't drop.
But the same somewhat conservative approach -- assuming she continues to play well from tee to green -- could help her make the cut this week.
The shot that probably hurt Wie most here last year was the 20-foot par putt that zipped past the No. 6 hole by more than 5 feet, leaving her a difficult make for bogey that didn't go down.
A simple bogey, and Wie doesn't tee off at No. 7 thinking about how she completely mangled the previous hole, maybe doesn't spray her shot onto the cart path to set up another bogey.
This week, some low-risk might lead to high-reward, and Wie understands that. She also knows the course better, and has a better idea of where to attack and where to give in.
"I feel really comfortable on this golf course," she said after yesterday's practice round with Jason Day, Zach Johnson and O'Hair. "But it doesn't really matter. All that matters is how I have to hit the shots come Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday."
This is one 16-year-old who has no plans of spending the weekend at the mall.