Michelle Wie is relishing her return to the leaderboard at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
“Honestly, I woke up before my alarm clock,” Wie said of her start to Friday’s second round in Singapore. “Feeling a little bit of nerves but mostly just excitement.”
Nerves didn’t seem a problem with Wie posting a bogey-free 3-under-par 69 to stay in contention. She opened Thursday taking the first-round lead and will start the weekend just one shot behind Inbee Park (67), who is at 10 under overall.
Wie will get a good idea how her rebuilt game is standing up in a Saturday pairing with Suzann Pettersen (67) and Sung Hyun Park (68), who are each two shots off the lead. The event features a stellar leaderboard filled with some of the women’s game’s biggest names, including Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who is three shots back, and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who is only one shot back.
“Definitely was a patient round,” Wie said. “I had a lot of putts that almost nearly went in. Just kept patient out there today. Made a good birdie on the back nine. It was just a steady round.”
Wie, 27, is looking to rebound from her worst year as a pro. After struggling to make it to the weekends too often last year, she is in good position to make a weekend run at her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst three years ago.
“Good-to-be-back feeling, for sure,” Wie said.
After falling to 105th on the LPGA money list last year, her worst finish in eight seasons on tour, Wie lost full LPGA status. She’s playing out of category 3 of the LPGA priority list this year, though she’s playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption.
Wie has turned around her putting over her last two starts. After missing the cut in the season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic struggling with her unorthodox “table-top” putting stance, she switched to a more upright stance, with a claw grip, at the ISPS Handa Womens’ Australian Open. She ditched the claw this week for a conventional grip, but she’s still in an upright posture.
Wie’s weekend plan?
“Just keep doing what I'm doing,” she said. “Just keep having fun out there. Try as hard as I can, hit some fairways, hit some greens, make some putts.”