LPGA Kraft goes from bad to worse for Wie


POSTED: Sunday, April 05, 2009

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. » Michelle Wie spent most of yesterday's third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship spraying shots all over the lot.

If she wasn't hitting her driver out of bounds left, she was fanning her irons right into the water. When she did finally make it to the dance floor, too often Wie missed putts from point-blank range, including a 3-footer straight in for par at the fourth that didn't even hit the cup.

As bad as the weather was on Friday, when Wie carded her first 81 of the tournament, yesterday was a perfect morning to go low. Instead, Wie pulled another 81 out of her Sony golf bag to land at the bottom of the leaderboard rather than contending at the top.

Wie's first tee shot on this chilly Saturday morning went so far left, she asked caddie Tim Vickers to give her another golf ball straight away. No need to inquire whether it was out of bounds—the owner of the home had already scooped it up and put the golf ball in his pocket.

Wie went on to double bogey the first and was well on her way to being 6 over for her round after only five holes. Picture going to the dentist's office while he's pulling wisdom teeth and that's what it's been like for golf fans to watch the teen prodigy who had three top 10s here in four previous appearances.

At the par-3 fifth, Wie came over the top of the golf ball with a power hook. Seconds after it left the tee box, she yelled, “;Get down.”; It tried, landing on the shaved shore next to the green, only to roll back down to a watery grave.

The 19-year-old Punahou School grad settled down after that, going 1 under over her next eight holes, including a nice birdie at the par-5 ninth from 8 feet. But the goodwill hunting didn't last.

After a two-putt par at No. 13, Wie stepped up to the par-3 14th and hit an iron shot deep into the pond for the second straight day. She pulled her hat over her face as playing partner Jennifer Rosales found the green with ease to begin one of those three-hole odysseys that have plagued Wie the last two days.

She followed the double bogey at 14 with back-to-back bogeys over the next two holes. The first one resulted after she hit a 4-foot par putt that horseshoed around the cup before spinning out for a bogey. An even stranger set of events took place at the par-4 16th.

After hitting a perfect drive down the middle, one of only five times she landed in the fairway off the tee, she inexplicably nailed a tree on her second shot that was 50 yards to her right. The ball plopped down behind the tree, forcing her to chip out en route to another bogey.

Despite all the travails, people came to see her from all over the course. Some went the distance, others danced in and out of view, snatching an update here and there, before heading off for another group.

She and Rosales, who would talk to a golf bag, rarely spoke a word, as Wie kept to herself, including ducking out of the scorer's tent to avoid the few media members interested in what had gone wrong. For those who saw all 81 shots, they already knew—everything.

Wie will go off today in the first group once more. She will then travel to South Korea after getting an appearance fee to play in a Korean LPGA tourney in two weeks, before returning to the tour in three weeks to play in Mexico.

By then, the Stanford University student may be able to pass her golf exam, but at this point, she's failing. It was her sixth round over par out of her last seven and the seventh time she's had a round in the 80s since 2007.

It's not a good sign for someone who once held so much promise. She had hoped to do the traditional jump in Poppie's Pond after the final round today, but after hitting so many golf balls in it, that will have to wait for at least another year.