Wie's putter a no-show at Kraft
POSTED: Friday, April 02, 2010
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. » The one club not cooperating for Michelle Wie in the opening round of the $2 million Kraft Nabisco Championship was the most important one—the putter.
The Honolulu resident struck the ball off the tee with authority, averaging a staggering 306 yards, the best in the field. Her iron play was equally stellar, hitting all but four greens in regulation, but her flat stick took the day off on a picture-perfect day in the desert, and it showed.
Even her lone birdie at the par-5 11th was tainted a bit, considering she two-putted from 12 feet above the hole. The speed of the greens perplexed the 20-year-old Stanford University student, leaving her with an opening-round 71 that could have been so much better.
"I left myself in a hard putting situation," Wie said. "I didn't leave myself really any easy putts. I think tomorrow I want to capitalize more on the birdie holes. Making pars on a major golf course, I think that's a good thing."
KRAFT NABISCO LEADERBOARD
After first round at Mission Hills Country Club, par 72. x—amateur:
She paused for a moment, then deadpanned, "And I made 17 of them."
That she did, mostly with driver in the fairway, approach shot on the green and two-putt for par. It wasn't exciting, but it did leave the Punahou graduate just off the pace entering today's second round of the first major event on the LPGA Tour.
Suzanne Pettersen led the way with a 5-under 67, one shot clear of world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa (68). Seven golfers shot 69 and another three managed 70s, including defending champion Brittany Lincicome, who is paired with Wie in the opening two rounds.
The bomber babes swung for the fences for most of the afternoon, seeing who could outdo the other. Wie won that battle, as Lincicome averaged 279 yards, but last year's winner had a better feel for the greens. She went as low as 4 under before a wicked back nine, that found Lincicome in the sand three times, took its toll.
Wie needed 32 putts to Lincicome's 25, and that proved vital for last year's winner. The talented twosome tee off early today with Wie hoping she can move out of a tie for 14th and into contention for her first major title.
A large gallery followed the pairing as they rocked back and forth between Ochoa and Juli Inkster, who were in the group in front of Wie. They had a vocal contingent, as plenty of folks from south of the border came to cheer for their Mexican champion.
Ochoa didn't disappoint with a bogey-free 68, a round Wie could have easily matched had she dropped more putts. The longest putt Wie made was from 6 feet for a sand save for par at No. 7. It wasn't that Wie was missing badly, but she had a 7-footer at the 18th for birdie that just slid by the cup. That typified her day.
"My round was still good," Wie said. "Today, I just over-read a couple of putts. I thought my stroke was pretty. I think I just have to make one and that will get me started. I made a couple of mistakes out there, but I still made par. Hopefully (today) I can shoot a low number."
Fellow Hawaii resident Kimberly Kim hopes for the same thing. The former Big Island resident, who is a freshman at the University of Denver, struggled mightily for most of the morning, closing with a 9-over 81. The amateur needs a good score today if she has any hope of landing a spot on the Curtis Cup team that will be announced later this month. The feeling here is, if she makes the cut today, she will be one of the Americans facing the Europeans this summer.
She is currently tied for 109th. The top 70 and ties will advance to the weekend. Kim will likely need a 69 today to survive.