When Michelle Wie won her first LPGA Tournament last November, after four years of hit-and-miss tribulations, it seemed like a portentous and overdue breakthrough.
With that mountain of expectation finally lifted and her abilities validated, there was little doubt Wie was both confident and poised to roll.
And, with the retirement of the LPGA’s reigning queen, Lorena Ochoa, Wie seemed the heir apparent, someone charismatic and ready to vault into the leadership vacuum with the star-hungry women’s pro tour relishing the prospect.
Thirteen tournaments and eight months later, Wie’s situation is just as baffling as ever, while the victories are just as elusive and questions just as frequent.
Yesterday, for example, Wie had a 9 on the par-four 10th hole to scuttle her second round in the Evian Masters in France.
That contributed to a 77 for the day, a 36-hole 145 and a tie for 46th place, three strokes from missing the cut.
Still, to show you how much of a struggle it has been of late, that passed for improvement since she missed the cut in the U. S. Women’s Open the previous tournament, which she called, "a complete fail."
Wie is languishing at 20th on the LPGA money list for the year, not that she doesn’t know where her next pair of chandelier earrings are coming from, however.
For a lot of LPGA golfers that would be a nice place to be. But Wie isn’t chasing "nice." For her, someone with upwards of $10 million a year in endorsements, the current $259,988 in on-the-course money is small change.
Or, enough to hire yet another new coach. But then, maybe, you suspect, that is part of the ongoing drama and problem. And you would not be alone.
Wie, who has shed agents, caddies and advisors like so much recyclable refuse, switched putting coaches in the spring. She started the year with two-time major winner Dave Stockton as her putting coach, but in May was working with the accomplished Dave Pelz.
Somewhere in between there developed signs of a disconnect in the short game. Can it be pure coincidence she has managed just one top-20 finish in the previous four tournaments and is on the way to making it five while she seeks familiarity with yet another approach to solving her biggest nemesis, putting?
The hope is that she will get it on track and begin winning again one of these days. But her wanderings — 69 putts in two rounds at the U. S. Open — underlined the difficulties and loose ends that, so far, have her ranked 142nd on the tour in putting.
Because of that, the considerable momentum and confidence gained from the impressive Solheim Cup showing and Ochoa Invitational victory are but fading history. Her ascension postponed.
In golf lingo some call scores like yesterday’s quintuple bogey — as if that weren’t harsh enough for a pro — a "goose."
There are differing opinions on how it came to be known as a "goose," but there are few doubts about its meaning.
One of them, as Wie can tell you, is that with a "goose" a golfer’s chances in the tournament are pretty much cooked like one. Which, for someone who started this year with such high hopes and pent-up promise is hardly what you would have expected.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com.