EDINA, Minn. (AP) — Michelle Wie climbed three steps onto a platform, preparing to explain her quintuple-bogey 9 on one hole and her 81 in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open.
“This is my execution platform,” she said with a grin.
Her performance at Interlachen wasn’t that bad — it just felt that way.
Wie’s road to recovery took a nasty detour Thursday when she took seven shots to navigate the final 30 yards of the ninth hole, which took her from the middle of the pack toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
When she tapped in for a 9, she lightly banged the shaft of her putter against her head. Dazed, she stood to the side of the green muttering to herself. She never quite recovered, and she failed to break 80 for the second straight year in the Women’s Open.
“I had trouble counting how many strokes I had on that hole,” Wie said. “But like I said, it was just one bad hole. And it’s the U.S. Open. It will bite you in the butt.”
The 18-year-old player from Hawaii had to qualify for the Women’s Open for the first time since the eighth grade, and she finished second in her qualifier. That was sandwiched around a sixth-place finish in the Ladies German Open and a tie for 24th last week on the LPGA Tour, her best showing in nearly two years.
One hole changed everything.
Wie pulled her tee shot into the right rough, then tried to hit a low approach through the trees to an elevated green. The shot came up about 30 yards short in the rough, although the ball was sitting up, and Wie had a reasonable chance of saving par.
But her third shot created the problem. The low screamer scooted over the bowl-shaped green into thick grass, leaving her a steep, downhill chip that could get close only if it hit the pin.
“I was surprised it came out that way,” she said. “I didn’t blade it all. It looked like I bladed it, but I hit behind the ball. It was weird.”
Instead of playing sideways and using some of the contours, she tried a flop shot that came up inches short of the fringe. She thought about inverted the blade of her putter for the fifth shot, but she putted it conventionally, and it hopped out quickly and rolled down the ridge and off the green. Her chip reached the top of the ridge, then trickled back to her feet.
Wie’s seventh shot was a chip past the hole, then down the slope to 5 feet. But she missed the putt.
“I shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Wie said.
Trying to regain her composure, Wie had a 3-wood into the par-5 10th that took a hard hop and rolled through the green, denying her an easy chance at birdie. She dropped three more shots along the back nine until making birdie on the par-5 18th.
The 81 on Thursday looked nothing like the 82 she opened with last year at Pine Needles. Wie showed her strength is nearly back to normal, and her short game featured imagination that few other players have on the LPGA Tour.
“I just have to putt better,” she said. “I’m doing everything else the way I wanted to. I’m hitting my irons great. I have to do the good things, and the bag things, keep them in the closet.”
She probably will need a round of 3-under 70 for a chance to make the cut, which will be tougher in the afternoon. Despite a setback at Interlachen, Wie thought she had that in her.
“I had one bad hole,” she said. “And tomorrow, it’s going to be a new day.”
Unless she makes a few putts, it could be her last day.