How ironic that Michelle Wie left college life at Stanford to play in her first LPGA event as a rookie, only to find herself tied and paired with Angela Stanford on the final day. But this Stanford had a class for Wie as well, and it was called "How to Close Out a Tournament." Wie is just a couple of credits short of graduation. Going into the final round at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Wie carried herself like a winner, leading by 3 strokes at the turn. But, oh my, how things can turn around faster than a 50-mile-per-hour gust of wind. For 45 holes of the 54-hole event, the typical Hawaiian trade winds were blowing in Wie's favor. Then her tee shot found the hazard on No. 11, beginning a chain of events between Wie and Stanford that all the winds in Hawaii couldn't change.
Stanford and Wie simply changed places on the last nine after a two-shot swing on 11 in Stanford's favor. After taking a drop from the lateral hazard, Wie hit her third shot just over the 11th green. Her next shot, a short chip, ended up short and nowhere near the hole. A fabulous two-putt saved double bogey. It's easy to say "what if," but Wie lost the possibility of an up-and-down to save a shot after what looked like a rushed effort to hit that chip shot.
Hole 13 is where Stanford taught Wie a lesson in experience. Taking deliberate time with each shot, managing the wind and hitting irons with precision, Stanford birdied three holes in a row, propelling her lead to two shots. Then, Wie struck back on 16, sticking her second shot within 3 1/2 feet of the hole, only to miss the birdie putt. Another shot gone with the wind that would have put Wie only one back. After a drive into a fairway bunker on 17, Michelle made her last bogey of the day, and finished with a par on 18.
Before hitting her second shot on 18, the camera zoomed in on Wie and her caddie having a laugh about something. It was nice to see her giggle. It was good to see her comfortable and happy. It was great to see her in contention to win. After she signed her card and posted the second-place finish, Wie admitted her disappointment but said she will take a lot of positives from this experience.
And there were many positives, with only a couple of hiccups. Wie will win, sooner rather than later. After all, she really didn't lose this one; Stanford just came on strong and blew right by Wie.
(Robert Beck/SI) Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Carol Preisinger is director of instruction at the Kiawah Island Golf Club. To learn more about Carol, visit carolpreisinger.com .