HONOLULU -- After Michelle Wie signed for her highest score
on the PGA Tour, one that sent her to the bottom of the leaderboard
Thursday at the Sony Open, she struggled to keep her voice steady
while explaining what went wrong.
Three double bogeys. Two three-putts. And late in a blustery
round at Waialae, one shot was so off-line that her agent held up
his leather-bound notebook to keep the ball from hitting him in the
head, leaving a dent in the cover.
Unable to stop the slide in gusts up to 35 mph, Wie stumbled to
a 9-over 79 that left her tied with John Cook for last place with
virtually no hope of becoming the first woman in 61 years to make
the cut on the PGA Tour.
"Today it was like, 'Wow," she said. "It's like, 'I can't
believe I'm doing this bad."'
And as the 16-year-old got up from her chair, she finally
figured out what would make it all go away.
"I want some chocolate," she said.
Wie's fourth start on the PGA Tour -- and third straight
appearance in the Sony Open -- quickly turned into her worst on a
wind-swept day along the Pacific Ocean. She missed a 30-inch par
putt on her third hole (No. 12), shot 42 over her first nine holes
and ended her long day by missing a 6-foot birdie.
Wie, who turned pro three months ago in a hotel behind the 10th
green, had never shot higher than 75 in her three previous PGA Tour
events, and the 79 matched her highest score in eight tournaments
against the men. At age 13, she shot 79 in the second round of the
Bay Mills Open on the Canadian tour.
"It was just a combination of bad shots that turned out to be
really bad, and just a lot of wasted strokes out there," Wie said.
"It was not my day."
Expectations were higher than ever that Wie would get to play
all four rounds, having come close at the John Deere Classic in
July and at the Casio World Open in Japan.
Sabbatini and Toms said she was being too hard on herself.
"I played Bay Hill a couple of years ago, I shot 89 the first
round, and I was in the top 80 in the world ranking," Sabbatini
said. "Is that embarrassing for the tournament director? I don't
think so. Things like that happen. That's just part of competitive
golf, and she'll get over it."
Toms paid more attention to the crowd than the score. Fans were
six-deep behind the 10th tee when Wie teed off, and they lined the
fairways to see all 79 shots.
"If it was dead calm today, do you think she would be doing
that?" Toms said. "I think she would be playing well. I think
it's a hard golf course, and you have to be there on every shot."
Wie was there, ever so briefly.
She blistered her opening tee shot down the middle into a strong
wind, past Chris Couch and Camilo Villegas, both long hitters who
went into the rough. Facing a 75-foot bunker shot on the par-3
11th, Wie nearly holed it, then she striped another tee shot down
But that was as good as it got.
She badly pulled a 30-inch par putt on the 12th. Her pitch from
deep rough came up five yards short of the 13th green, leading to
double bogey. And after another solid drive on the 15th, she began
shaking her head when her punch shot to keep the ball under the
wind came up short and barely in a bunker.
Spreading her legs wide -- one foot in the sand, one on the grass
-- she dug down and blasted out over the green into another bunker,
looking skyward in utter frustration as she took another double
"I made one birdie," she said of a 15-foot putt on No. 3 that
swirled into the cup, prompting her to raise both arms in mock
victory. "I was like, 'Yay, finally made a birdie.' I knew I
wasn't going to get to even par, but just try as hard as I can
Two years ago, Wie shot 72-68 and missed the cut by one shot.
Even in strong wind a year ago, she still managed a 75 in the
opening round to keep people guessing whether she could make the
cut. But now, even a junior at nearby Punahou School knows the odds
are longer than a flight to the mainland.
"Try and shoot 61," she said.
Her partners, Couch and Villegas, wrote it off as a bad day that
could have happened to anyone, even a teenager with a fingernail
polish and hoop earrings.
Couch played two years ago at the Sony Open and finished two
shots behind Wie, prompting his buddies in Florida to give him a
shirt that said, "I need to practice a Wie bit harder."
Couch fell two shots behind Wie after two holes, but returned a
71 and nothing but praise.
"She's going to be one of the best, no doubt," he said.
Villegas was more concerned with an infected hangnail on his
left thumb, and told his mother Wednesday night he was 95 percent
certain he would withdraw. But he soaked up the largest gallery he
has seen during a round of 72.
"On No. 3 or 4, I looked around and said, 'Man, there's a lot
of cameras out here,"' Villegas said. "I think she was awesome.
She handled herself great."
Wie headed to the range and then home to contemplate a day she
would rather forget. But even in her struggles, she said she would
learn. And given the alternative, a 79 on the PGA Tour was still
better than a day in school.
"Exams today," Wie said. "I'd rather be here."