KOHLER, Wis. (AP) — When Michelle Wie’s name comes up, many fans likely remember a child prodigy expected to dominate women’s golf for years.
Today, Wie is a 22-year-old recent Stanford graduate. And in most of the tournaments she has played this year, her primary concern hasn’t been contending — but whether she’d simply make the cut.
That trend turned around in a big way Friday, when Wie shot a 6-under 66 at Blackwolf Run and climbed to within a shot of the lead in the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I’m pretty stoked to be back in contention and honestly not have to worry about the cut line,” Wie said. “It feels pretty good.”
Suzann Pettersen, the Norwegian star ranked sixth in the world, shot a 68 and moved to 5 under to take the lead going into Saturday’s third round. Wie was one stroke back, tied with 2007 Open winner Cristie Kerr.
Wie said she doesn’t spend much time thinking about the attention she received when she was younger, or whether some fans had written her off since then.
“I don’t know if anyone gave up on me or not,” Wie said. “I’m sure some did and some didn’t. But I never gave up on myself, and today was a good reminder to myself that I can do (it) and I still have it.”
Wie is thankful for the opportunities she had, but isn’t particularly eager to revisit them.
“I can’t really live in the past,” Wie said. “What I did is what I did, and I’m really looking forward to what I’m going to do tomorrow and Sunday and the future, really.”
On Friday, she got it done with accurate approach shots — then making putts.
“Yesterday I had a lot of 40-foot putts, 50-foot putts,” Wie said. “Today on the back 9 I had a lot of putts within 15 feet. That really helps on the golf course. It’s the difference between lagging them and trying to make them. So I was putting them in good positions today.”
Wie was 12 years old when she qualified for an LPGA Tour event in 2002 — making her at the time the youngest player ever to do so. She went on to compete in a handful of men’s tournaments, but never turned her early stardom into consistent success. She has two career LPGA Tour victories.
Wie has missed six cuts this season, although she says she has been feeling better about her game.
“The last couple of weeks it started to feel good,” Wie said. “Things were coming. My scores weren’t showing up as well. But it’s a work in progress. Still a long way to go.”
And Wie knows she’s a long way from a potential victory Sunday, but is excited to have something to shoot for beyond simply making it to the weekend.
“The fact that you’re in contention to have a chance to win the U.S. Open is a big deal,” Wie said. “I’m so grateful I have that chance right now. I’m really looking forward to seeing the crowds tomorrow and experiencing it all again.”
Pettersen said Wie should be given some space to find her game at her own pace.
“I think you should give her a break,” Pettersen said. “She just graduated, four years in college. That’s pretty impressive to do that on the sideline of trying to compete out here. So now it’s obviously a little different world for her. Now it’s all about golf, and she has to kind of find her schedule, how to kind of work it out the best way for her.”
Pettersen’s own day got off to a frantic start when her alarm clock betrayed her. She woke up late and had to rush to the course.
Talk about a golf scramble.
“I thought it was awfully light in the room when I woke up at 6:40, an hour late,” Pettersen said. “I don’t know. I looked at the alarm clock, and I think instead of putting it (at) 5:45, I put it for 6:45. I cut breakfast short and went straight to the green.”
And after another day in hot and muggy conditions, Pettersen said, “Can’t wait for a shower now.”
Sandra Gal, Inbee Park and Vicky Hurst shot 70 to reach 3 under.
Lizette Salas, a 22-year-old recent Southern California graduate, had a 73 to drop to 2 under. Mika Miyazato also was 2 under after a 71.
Brittany Lincicome had a miserable day, shooting an 80 on Friday to fall to 5 over.
“I did nothing right today,” Lincicome said. “I couldn’t drive the ball. I couldn’t do anything right. I couldn’t putt.”
Seventeen-year-old Lexi Thompson shot a 73 to top the group at 1 under.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng was 2 over after a 72.
Second-ranked Stacy Lewis recovered from a first-round 77 to shoot a 69 on Friday, putting her 2 over. Third-ranked Ai Miyazato, the winner last week in Arkansas, was even par after a 74.
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu shot a 71 and was 1 over.
Se Ri Pak, the Open winner at Blackwolf Run in 1998, also was 1 over after a 73.