With Wie, we've come to expect days like this


POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Any other rookie finishes second in her first event as a card-carrying LPGA Tour member, everybody says, “;Watch out for her!”;

When it's Michelle Wie, it's another choke.

Of course, that's not all. To leave it at that would be very unfair to Angela Stanford. Wie had the misfortune of running clubface-first into the hottest player on the tour in what amounted to a match-play final; anyone else with a chance going into the last 18 yesterday at Turtle Bay floundered around like a hot dog wrapper in the wind.

This result is due to Stanford's charge and maturity as a player as much as it is about yet another Wie meltdown.

Stanford showed how it's done—play patiently and when you get your opening, step up and don't let up. But when Wie went ahead by three with eight holes to go, it appeared to finally be Michelle's day.

“;I was going to need her to make a mistake,”; Stanford said.

Fortunately for her, Wie, as usual, accommodated.

Sometimes, it hasn't been her fault. Over the years, I've observed Wie in all kinds of bizarre situations, none leading to the winner's circle. Saw her attacked by bees and then done in by a snitch at Bighorn in her pro debut. Another time, a flying bug knocked her driver off course at the John Deere Classic and the next day she ended up strapped to a gurney before she could miss the cut.

Nothing so odd this time. Just her own mistakes and Stanford's excellence and experience.

The wind finally got Michelle, dealing a crippling blow, chopping away most of her three-stroke lead. But it was still Yes Wie Can, even after the double-bogey on 11.

Then, Stanford pounced, with three birdies in a row. That's what players who know how to win do. Wie cracked the door open and Stanford knocked it down.

And the missed short putt for birdie on 16 that would've put her within one. It was inexplicable and decisive. No need for Stanford to drive home a kill shot, since it was self-inflicted by Wie.

Stanford was gracious in victory, acknowledging Wie's talent. She said she just needs to remember to be patient, and that she's playing “;the hardest game in the world.”; She agrees it's inevitable Wie will win.

But not today, not on her watch.

Let's hope Wie does better with the Stanford in California, because she wasn't ready for this one.

After witnessing so many Wie travails, I should've known better. But at the turn I was like many others, ready to celebrate the local girl finally getting off the schneid—preparing to write that now that Wie has won in Hawaii, Nike can swoosh in to save the day by sponsoring a golf tournament or three in the islands.

Maybe it's still not a bad idea, judging by the huge gallery, about five of whom came to see Stanford. And most of this crowd doesn't consider second place the first loser.

Michelle Wie always attracts a crowd. But so do the Chicago Cubs.