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Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Wee Bit More About Wie's Play

Yeah, I know... the final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational has yet to be played. And, barring a shockingly low round by someone like Stacy Lewis (-8, T6), who's 7 shots off the lead, this looks to be a 4-girl sprint to the finish:
  1. Inbee Park, -15
  2. Cristie Kerr,-13
  3. So Yeon Ryu, -12
  4. Angela Stanford, -11
I know anything's possible this year, given the number of come-from-behind wins we've seen. Heck, Stacy Lewis won the Mizuno Classic last week by shooting -8 in the last round while the leader could only manage even par. But this is Inbee Park we're talking about here, who's been out of the Top 10 only twice since early June and has 2 wins and 4 runner-ups in that period. It's hard to believe anybody outside these four has a realistic chance to catch her.

But I'm greatly encouraged by Michelle Wie's showing so far this week. So Michelle merits two posts from me this weekend.

Friday I wrote about how I feel she's been hammered a bit too hard for her poor play this year, as well as how proud I am of the way she's handled it. I said I was happy to see her post another good round -- a bogey-free 66 (-5) on her first round, giving her a share of the lead -- and while I didn't know if she could bring it home for a win, I thought it was a good sign.

Her second round wasn't as good -- a 75 (+3) littered with 4 bogeys and a double, against only 2 birdies -- but she came right back in the third round with another bogey-free round of 67 (-5), tying her for sixth place with Stacy Lewis, Candie Kung, and Hee Kyung Seo (aka "the Supermodel of the Fairways").

I know it's only one week, but improvement has to start somewhere. Unless she shoots some ridiculous score like +6 today, I think she's going to walk away from this week with a really good taste in her mouth. She may not be consistent from round to round yet, but she IS starting to put entire rounds together now rather than just a few holes. Added to the trend of improvement she's shown over the last few tournaments, this looks like good new for Michelle.

As for the tournament itself, I'm unwilling to award it to Inbee Park yet. As well as she's been playing, Ryu -- who's become a perpetual good pick, as far as I'm concerned -- is putting the best of the leaders by far (only 80 putts for 3 rounds) as well as making the fewest bogeys (only 2). And Kerr has both matched Ryu's bogey count and managed to get one stroke ahead of her despite putting the worst of the leaders (89 putts). This tournament is still up for grabs.

But I'll be pulling for Michelle Wie today. If she just keeps going out and trying to play well, 2013 could end up being a resurgent year for the Big Wiesy. And I for one will be very happy to see it.

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