On a truly rough day for the world’s No. 10-ranked golfer, Michelle Wie shot an 11-over 82 on Thursday to play herself out of contention after one round of the U.S. Women’s Open.
She couldn’t drive the ball in the fairways, finding too many of Oakmont Country Club’s 208 bunkers. Once she finally reached the 108-year-old course’s infamously treacherous greens, her game got even worse.
"There was nothing I could do," Wie said.
It was another major disappointment for the golfer who was supposed to be the sport’s next big thing not that long ago. Wie hasn’t finished in the Top 10 in any major since the 2006 U.S. Open, when she was a high school senior.
After the 20-year-old Stanford student finished her worst professional round since an 84 at the Evian Masters in 2007, she talked about trying to shoot "lights out" and "going for birdies" on Friday. Exactly what nearly every other top-tier golfer said is a certain prescription for trouble at Oakmont, where par golf almost always wins.
The key to staying in contention on one of the world’s most demanding courses is keeping the ball in the fairway – even if it requires using a mid-iron off the tee on a par-4 hole, as Paula Creamer did – and putting well.
Wie did neither, finding only four of 14 fairways off the tee and reaching a mere six greens in regulation during a round in which she had five bogeys and three double bogeys.
"Mostly I think it was my putting that got me," she said. "It felt like my irons were good and my wedges were good. I just need to put it in the fairway so I can hit those."
Beginning her round on No. 10, Wie’s game quickly fell apart from No. 14-17 holes, where she had double bogeys on three.
She was forced to pitch sideways out of a fairway bunker on No. 14 before three-putting. She three-putted again on No. 16 and No. 17, after she landed in yet another fairway bunker.
"They’re pretty tough," Wie said of Oakmont’s wickedly fast greens. "You just can’t be above the hole, like I did the first hole. I hit a good putt and you just leave yourself 4-5 footers and then you miss a couple. Hopefully (on Friday) I’ll make all the putts I missed today."
Wie also had an 82 during her opening round at the 2007 U.S. Open, when she later withdrew due to injury. The year before, she finished in a tie for third.
Unless she shoots that "lights out" round Friday, she is all but certain to miss the cut, just as she did in the 2008 Women’s Open. She didn’t qualify last year.
"I try not to get (frustrated)," Wie said. "This was kind of one of those days where nothing goes as planned. But I felt better coming in, so hopefully it starts off on the right foot. I’ll try to go for some birdies and try to (play) on the weekend."