In yet another first, and one some thought would never come, Michelle Wie will defend her first LPGA title this week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. The tournament tees off today at Guadalajara Country Club.
Wie won by two shots over Paula Creamer last year, as a part-time LPGA rookie in her third year at Stanford. Now she’s back at Stanford, turned 21 last month and has accumulated another win (CN Canadian Women’s Open) and $888,000 in 18 starts this season. The 2007 Punahou graduate is ranked seventh in the world, and she is second among Americans.
Wie’s meteoric rise to international celebrity began at age 10, when she was taking lessons from Casey Nakama at Olomana Golf Links. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at 13, made an eye-popping bid to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2006 and was named "One of 100 people who shape our world" by Time magazine.
This year she leads the tour in driving distance, averaging 275.4 yards, ranks third in greens hit in regulation (.733) and is 16th in scoring average (71.23). She is also 134th in driving accuracy, hitting just more than half the fairways.
All four rounds of the tournament will be shown on the Golf Channel, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., beginning today.
Ochoa is coming out of retirement to play her event, and her husband, AeroMexico CEO Andres Conesa, will be her caddie. Ochoa’s practice included winning the Mission Hills Star Trophy tournament in China several weeks ago. She played with Greg Norman in yesterday’s Pro-Am. The two have a co-design proposal for the 2016 Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro.
» Monday is the entry deadline for the fifth annual Makalei Amateur Championship. The tournament is Nov. 20-21 at Makalei Golf Club on the Big Island. It is open to male and female amateur golfers of all ages and is a 2011 Governor’s Cup points event. Players must have a current USGA GHIN Handicap Index to participate. Entry fee is $125.
» King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is offering a special room rate of $95 per night (plus tax), for up to four in a room. Contact Alana Yamamoto (email@example.com or 808-331-6360) for reservations. For more information on registration, contact Kevin Ginoza, director of golf at Makalei Golf Club, 808-325-6625 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Online registration is available at makalei.com.