In case you haven't been watching the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, you are missing something amazing.
First of all, the cut set a record -- 74 players were at -5 or better. A lot of big names like Lexi Thompson, Suzanne Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Minjee Lee, Belen Mozo and Paula Creamer were just a few of those unlucky enough to play this week. They're all going home.
But the players who made the cut are definitely NOT just lucky. Ariya Jutanugarn and Stacy Lewis top the field at -13, Michelle Wie is part of a foursome just one stroke back, and Inbee Park leads a group of six another stroke behind them. And of the dozen players in the group I just mentioned, only In Gee Chun shot less than -5 in Friday's round. (She shot -3 to join Inbee's group.)
But Michelle is the big story again this week. Her newfound putting prowess and control off the tee have put her at -12. Ironically, she's -11 on the front nine, which was designed by Arnold Palmer. (The back nine at Wildfire was designed by Nick Faldo.) And that putting stroke of hers... well, even when she misses the putt, it looks as if it could have gone in.
Needless to say, this is a first in Michelle's career. Even Judy Rankin remarked that she had NEVER been able to say that!
Look, I'm not saying that Michelle is going to win this week. But her progress this season has been unmistakable. She missed her first cut, then went T30, T4 and now she's back in contention again. We haven't seen THIS Michelle since she won the 2015 US Women's Open... and she wasn't putting this well even then.
If she keeps this trend of improvement up, Michelle Wie might end up being the big story of 2017. And that could be VERY good for the LPGA.