No victory, but gallery still loves Michelle


POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday, the 12-year-old had a basketball game.

Yesterday morning, the 8-year-old was out on the baseball diamond.

And the 10-year-old? If someone had yelled “;volleyball,”; she would have been running for her kneepads.

But yesterday, the three youngsters were golfers, with dreams of following the same cart path that another Hawaii keiki had taken not too long ago. For them—and the hundreds of others who walked the Palmer Course—it was a chance to see if a local girl would make good in person, a chance to see Michelle Wie's first event as a card-carrying member of the LPGA.

While some were disappointed by Wie's blowup on the back nine, “;She got second and that's good,”; said Derin Pascual, an 8-year-old whose First Tee golf cap had Wie's autograph nestled between that of PGA pros Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.

“;I wanted to show him how these women have nice swings, hoping he can emulate that,”; Pascual's father Nick said. “;I haven't golfed in a while but seeing this today will be a spark for me.”;

Wie's presence encouraged many to drive from various parts of Oahu, including Alabama visitor Lynne Cornelius, who is staying in Waikiki.

“;I just started playing golf last October,”; Cornelius said. “;It was worth coming out to see Wie play. They say she's going to do for the LPGA what Tiger Woods did for the PGA. Looking at the crowd here—and it's not just a hometown thing—I believe it.”;

Blustery winds, heavy passing showers and Wie's double-bogey at No. 11 were enough to send dozens to the courtesy shuttle line long before she strode down the fairway at 18. Still, others lined the ropes for more than two hours to make sure they would be part of the “;Wie-nomena”; as her group approached the final green.

Shouts of “;We still love you, Michelle”; were heard as Wie, eventual winner Angela Stanford and Angela Park caught up to the applause on the last fairway. The increasing roar of the crowd rivaled that of the roar of the ocean just beyond the ironwood trees.

“;I'm a golf nut, I love it all, PGA, LPGA, high school,”; Kahuku High girls golf coach Joevan Joaquin said. “;It is a little disappointing she's not going to win. I didn't expect her to drop strokes on this course.

“;In the first round (66 Thursday), she proved she could do well. I thought she could go three rounds like that but ... The winds have been blustery. These are the kinds of days I'd hang my clubs up.”;

Lito Sagaysay watched from a wheelchair, his brother-in-law Nick Pascual pushing him around his first pro golf tournament.

“;We had to come, we don't know when it's coming back, sort of like the Pro Bowl,”; Sagaysay said, alluding to the announcement that this was the last SBS Open. “;I'm glad we came. We wanted to see Michelle do well. She's already had enough criticism. Most of us here are giving support.

“;It would have been nice to see her win at home but she'll have success. It's going to come.”;

Courtney Tabion will remember she was there when it almost happened. The 10-year-old, more into volleyball than golf at the moment, left the course, a SBS Open placard signed by Wie.