WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN
Michelle Wie teed off on the opening hole during the third round of the Women's British Open yesterday.
British Open gets best of Wie
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England » Michelle Wie doesn't figure to make up 11 shots entering today's final round of the Women's British Open. But that doesn't mean she won't be trying.
The Honolulu teen fired a ho-hum 72 yesterday to remain at 4-over 220 after three days at Royal Lytham. She is tied for 32nd in the final major of the 2006 LPGA season. Third-round leader Sherri Steinhauer rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt en route to a 6-under 66 to leave her three shots clear of 46-year-old Juli Inkster (74), Lorena Ochoa (65) and 2000 Women's British Open champ Sophie Gustafson.
The 43-year-old Steinhauer is 7 under after three rounds at the same course where she won the first of her two British Open titles. It's safe to say she likes it here at the cold and windswept course.
"I have great memories from here," said Steinhauer, who won at Royal Lytham in 1998. "When we came back here in 2003, I wasn't swinging well and I did miss the cut. I didn't play well. But I'm swinging better now and I just love this golf course."
Wie doesn't feel quite the same on the par-72, 6,480-yard course. Having to tee off early yesterday forced Wie to deal with the cold, something she doesn't face too often on sunny Oahu. She had two birdies and only one bogey on the front nine, but just didn't take advantage of her length off the tee.
"I hit some good drives, but I did not take advantage of the par 5s at all," Wie said. "It's very frustrating when you do that, but maybe I will just eagle all of them tomorrow."
That might be what she needs to move into contention as her summer tour winds down. She will return to Hawaii in time to prepare for her senior year at Punahou School. But before she does, Wie would like to give her British fans something to cheer about today.
"I'm not making birdies," Wie said. "That's the bottom line. I'm playing well. My scores aren't coming through. It's very frustrating when I play. But I feel it's all going to come down tomorrow.
"I left a lot of 30- and 40-foot putts today. I have been having a little bit of trouble controlling my irons. It kept me from making a lot more birdies. I feel like at the end of my round my irons got a lot better.
"Last year, my irons were fantastic in the British Open, but every week it is a little bit different. This week my irons are a little bit off and I will just work on it a little bit."
The 16-year-old could learn a lot watching Steinhauer play the links course. She went 5 under through six holes on the back nine yesterday at the same course where she overcame an opening-round 81 to capture the championship in 1998.
"It was just one of those days when I could just feel that I was in a zone. I just stayed out of my way and really just enjoyed the day," said Steinhauer, whose back-to-back British Open titles in 1998-99 came before the tournament was a major.
But don't etch her name on the trophy just yet. Ochoa's 65 was the best 18 holes of the tournament. She already has won twice this year and finished second five times. The popular golfer from Mexico has yet to win a major, but she's got a shot today.
"Before, they didn't know much about golf," she said. "Now they see Lorena Ochoa and they follow what I do. I do this for my country. I love my country and I hope, when they wake up, they watch what I do and they will be happy."
She and Wie played in the final group at the Kraft Nabisco in March, where Ochoa lost to Karrie Webb in a playoff. Wie missed that sudden-death pairing by one shot, but is unlikely to contend today.
"Nothing is impossible," Wie said. "A lot can happen tomorrow. I expect the most out of myself. I play my hardest and try my hardest out there. This is what happened today and that is what happened yesterday.
"Tomorrow is a whole new day. I will forget about today and work on a couple of things. I feel like I am playing well enough to shoot a really low score here."