Perhaps Michelle Wie will make it to her high school graduation this weekend after all. After four months off from competitive golf to heal injuries to both wrists — time she spent enjoying her final semester of high school, she says — the 17-year-old imploded in her first day back. She shot 14 over par in the opening round of the Ginn Tribute at RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant, S.C., before withdrawing with two holes to play.
[Annika Sorenstam, after two months away from the LPGA Tour because of injuries, made her return at the event. Click here for story.]
Wie cited pain in her left wrist, which she broke when she fell jogging in January, as the reason for withdrawing. “It felt good when I was practicing,” she said, “but I kind of tweaked it in the middle of the round.”
Physical pain aside, this was a round Wie will want to forget. As part of the second group off the 10th tee Thursday morning, Wie made par on her first hole, but she started racking up bogeys soon after. On 14 she had to return to the tee after hitting her first tee shot right into the woods and ended that hole with a triple bogey. She seemed to get back on track on 18, making birdie. But on 3, an easy par-5, the wheels came off, almost comically so. On her tee shot, she hit it far right, where it hit a car and rolled into a storm drain. On her next shot, she hooked it left into a pond. It took her 10 shots to finish the hole.
“When an injury is in the back of you’re mind, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to hurt,'” said Wie. “The last thing you’re thinking about is trying to hit the ball straight.”
Before Wie teed off on 8, her manager, Greg Nared, approached her, and the two talked briefly. Afterward Wie told an LPGA official, “We’re not going to play anymore.”
It’s not clear whose decision it was to withdraw. During the round Wie wasn’t obviously bothered by her wrist, and she looked surprised when Nared approached her on 8. (Nared didn’t stick around to answer questions after Wie’s press conference.)
Wie says she wasn’t thinking about the LPGA’s 88 rule, which stipulates that any non-LPGA player (Wie was there on a sponsor’s exemption) who doesn’t break 88 in a round is not allowed to finish the tournament or play in any other tournaments for the rest of the season. “I don’t think about shooting 88,” she said. “That’s not what I do.”
Wie didn’t seem to think her disastrous Thursday would have much effect on her ability to play next week at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in Maryland. “I definitely want to play next week,” said Wie, who has accepted a sponsor’s exemption to play in the PGA’s John Deere Classic in July. “I definitely know what to work on, so I’m excited to get back into it and try to work on it,” she said, declining to elaborate. She added, “It’s definitely going to be better for next week.”
It would be difficult, maybe season-ending, for her to be any worse.