Michelle Wie, who’s had a season to forget, cruised to a bogey-free 6-under 66 Thursday and a share of the lead on Day 1 of the LPGA Tour’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
Beginning her opening round with two birdies, Wie made the turn and immediately poured in four in a row. The 23-year-old Stanford grad may have found only nine of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation, but she needed just 26 putts and averaged more than 290 yards off the tee, easily outdriving most of the field but for big-hitting Brittany Lincicome.
Lincicome’s 303-yard driving average may have dwarfed Wie’s, but the 2009 Kraft Nabisco champion found herself five shots back of the former teen phenom heading into Friday’s second round.
Wie mounted her charge on a day when Annika Sorenstam said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” that she had expected to battle the young prodigy for years for supremacy of the LPGA, only to watch her young rival fall far short of expectations.
“Yes, I thought so,” Sorenstam said about whether she believed Wie would present the biggest threat to her dominance as the tour’s best player in her prime. “It was just a matter of time. I thought after a little experience, she would do this.”
Wie burst onto the golf scene at the age of 10 with a long, powerful swing and the promise of greatness she has yet to fulfill. Sorenstam, who has criticized Wie for some of her choices in the past, recalled a youngster with the skills of a star.
“When she joined the tour…she was hitting it a long way and she was hitting it high,” Sorenstam said. “She had a short game that nobody else had on the women’s side.”
To Sorenstam, Wie’s failure to play up to her abilities was disappointing.
“I think we’re all surprised that she really hasn’t done much more,” Sorenstam said. “I think it’s too bad. She’s still very young, hopefully she can still do it, but her future was so promising.”
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