To make the cut at the US Women’s Open, all Michelle Wie had to do was roll in a twisting 35-foot putt in front of a packed grandstand overlooking the 18th green.
As for the big-picture issue: Cashing in on her potential.
Not that long ago, Wie appeared on the verge of becoming the next big thing in the sport. Now 21 years old, Wie is still searching for her first victory at a major.
She’s the ultimate long shot, entering the third round trailing leader Mika Miyazato by 12 strokes. Wie needed that long, breaking putt on the 18th hole of her second round simply to make the cut at 7-over 149.
”I think I live my life too difficultly,” Wie said, smiling.
Or, as some have hinted, perhaps not seriously enough.
She was called out by Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam earlier this week for concentrating more on earning her degree at Stanford than her golf game. Not that there’s anything wrong with going to Stanford, but Wie gave up amateur golf six years ago, turning pro in hopes of cashing in on her potential.
”The physical part is there. Sometimes you wonder if she’s mentally strong enough to finish at the top,” Sorenstam said. ”She’s very distracted with school, doesn’t really play as much full time as I thought she would.”
But Wie took umbrage with that assertion, saying school doesn’t get in her way. She plans her classes around her golf lessons, which makes it difficult to sign up for courses she needs.
”A college degree has been one of my biggest dreams since I was 4,” said Wie, who is scheduled to graduate next spring with a communications degree. ”I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t do this. I’m having a lot of fun going to school.”
Wie spent most of Saturday trying to recover from a 7-over 78 in the first round. It put her in position of needing a birdie on 18 – ranked as the most difficult hole on the course – to have any chance.
After a solid 9-iron into the green, she patiently studied her line, trying to decipher the tricky greens at the Broadmoor. She rolled it true and the putt dropped. The crowd roared.
Wie has long been a fan favorite, the potential face of golf.
But now a few years into her career, she may still be best remembered for playing in a stop on the men’s tour than either of her two wins on the women’s side.
”I am a professional golfer and I am putting that as a priority, even when I’m in school,” Wie said. ”It’s my career, so that’s especially important to me.
”But at the same time, I think getting an education is also important. … I am trying my hardest. I’m not going to say it’s easy.”
CRUELEST CUT: Juli Inkster struggled in her second round Saturday and missed the cut at the US Open for the fourth time in five years.
The 51-year-old Inkster started out the championship with some hope, finishing the first round in 3-over 74. But she had eight bogeys as part of a sporadic 5-over round Saturday to miss the cut by one.
”I like the game. But I don’t like it much today,” Inkster chuckled as she chatted in the players’ lounge after her round.
Courtesy of her win in 2002, Inkster has one more year of exemption into the US Open and plans on using it.
After that, she will wait and see.
PRECISION OVER POWER: Paula Creamer is one of the best players in the world. She’s only human, though.
That’s why the defending champion had to consistently remind herself not to get caught up in trying to play the power game with world No. 1 Yani Tseng, who was in Creamer’s group for the first two rounds.
”I had to not try and kill every shot that I had, because there was no point in that,” Creamer said.
By staying in control, Creamer played most of her second shots 20-to-30 yards behind Tseng in the fairway.
But she beat Tseng by four shots over two rounds, reaching the midway point at even par.
The reason: While Tseng outdrove Creamer by an average of 278-258, Creamer hit 22 of 28 fairways compared to 15 for Tseng and reached 31 of 36 greens in regulation compared to 26 for Tseng.
”She hasn’t quite had the two days that she’s wanted, but I’m sure she’s going to come back on the weekend,” Creamer said. ”You take who you play with, and to be paired with the No. 1 player in the world is something that you want every time.”
CHIP SHOTS: Mariel Galdiano, the youngest player in the field at 13, finished last with a two-day total of 28-over 170. … Birdie Kim, who won the US Open in 2005 up the road at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, was 15 over for the tournament and missed the cut. Kim is still recovering from a car accident two summers ago in which she fractured several bones in her face, along with hurting her shoulder. ”I keep trying,” Kim said. ”Hopefully, (my game) is getting better.”