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SBS final round won't be a breeze


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POSTED: Saturday, February 14, 2009

These gusts are not your mere run-of-the mill trades.

It's so windy at Turtle Bay it blows the ink cartridge out of my pen. Not as much a problem for me as for TV analyst Mark Rolfing. He's gracious enough to let me ride shotgun, and then I'm unarmed when he needs a writing implement. We ride around in a circle trying to find a spectator with a pen so he can sign for persistent autograph hounds.

With Rolfing as my tutor, I just need to listen. The former pro player gives me the skinny on the stiff breeze at Turtle Bay.

He's an old salt out in the middle of the North Atlantic on a trawler. “;Nah, this isn't that bad.”;

But, he acknowledges, it does severely affect the flight (and the roll) of the ball, even for the best women's players in the world. The ones who succeed today are those who successfully factor it in.

Count Michelle Wie among them.

“;That may be the shot of the day,”; says Rolfing, after Wie hits a lob wedge to within 4 feet of the pin on No. 7.

“;Down wind, down hill and down grain,”; says the analyst.

For every day hackers, the wind at your back is a good thing. But not for the pros—approach shots with a tailwind are harder to control. But Wie and co-leader Angela Stanford master the wind.

I can't even manage to take notes in it. Amazing that anyone can shoot par.

The putter betrays Wie, though, keeping her from top spot alone.

The one-lane roads to the North Shore will be clogged this morning like after a Kahuku football state championship.

Wie is in contention, in position to finally shake years of demons.

Her 2-under 70 was a good score for a morning starting with rain and ending with 30 mph gusts. But she knew it could've been better.

“;I think there's a fine line from what I shot yesterday and what I did today,”; she says, comparing the second round to Thursday's 6-under 66.

Big wind's expected again today, making it that much more difficult for one of the seven players within five strokes of Wie and co-leader Angela Stanford to make a decisive run.

But, as Stanford points out, “;you can go backwards really quickly.”;

The TCU alum has done nothing but go forward lately, with 10 top-ten finishes last year including two wins to triple her victory total of her first seven seasons.

She was spectacularly steady yesterday, 17 pars and a birdie.

Wie needs to avoid developing a case of the yips, and maybe she can steer clear of crucial mistakes today—because hopefully she's learned by making them. Her record already includes more DQs and WDs than most pros suffer through in their entire careers.

As Stanford says—with no disrespect—Wie's not a rookie, but she is a rookie.

The crowd will be behind Wie today. The wind will be all around her, and that could be a blessing, too.