The defending champion at the Sony Open played a practice round with the 17-year-old Wie, who will be playing her hometown event for the fourth straight year Thursday, trying to end her 0-6 mark in making the cut on the PGA TOUR.
Wie played a practice round with defending champion Ernie Els in 2004. A year ago, she practiced with Justin Rose and Sean OHair, two guys who can pound it off the tee. Toms is of moderate length.
I felt like at times maybe she was overswinging, trying to hit a draw for extra distance, Toms said. She could probably tell after playing nines with me that she has adequate distance to play out here at a high level. She cant overpower our game like she does on the ladies tour, so she has to play a different game, more of an accuracy game.
I think once she learns that, shell do fine.
The Michelle Wie Show isnt nearly what it was when she made her Sony Open debut in 2004 and shot 68 in the second round to miss the cut by one shot. It doesnt even have the same energy as last year.
No one is taking about her, Paul Azinger said. Its kind of a shame. It looks like the novelty has worn off.
Even the senior in high school said she no longer feels out of place on the PGA TOUR, especially at Waialae Country Club. She doesnt spend every hour of daylight, soaking up her moment in the sun, never mind the overcast skies.
She couldnt say whether there was less buzz around her.
Its hard to think of myself as a novelty, she said. Its not like Im chocolate, or anything.
Wie was in the morning group in the first full-field event of the year on the PGA TOUR, playing with Gavin Coles of Australia, whose nickname on tour is the Angry Ant, which could lead to some interesting dynamics. The other player in their threesome is Stephen Marino, who shot the lowest round at Q-school (62) in earning his card.
For everyone else, its business as usual.
Vijay Singh will try to make it an island sweep, having won the Mercedes-Benz Championship last week. The only other player to start the year 2-0 in Hawaii was Ernie Els in 2003.
His confidence is climbing. His work is endless, shutting down the range two straight days leading to the opening round.
It really is a very comforting thing to have a win underneath your belt and to go out there and say, Even if I dont win this week, it doesnt matter because Ive got one already, Singh said. Thats probably not the right way to look at it. I need to pick myself up and get myself fired up again.
Singh already found plenty of motivation from The Golf Channel.
He told about seeing a report that suggested he would never be a top-5 player again, having won only once last year and about to turn 44. Singh hardly looked like he was aging at Kapalua, beating Adam Scott by two shots.
Its a shame, he said. Two years ago, I won nine events. Three years ago, I won four. So its not like I went off the map or anything. I did finish high on the money list last year (No. 4). I still won a golf tournament. I had a pretty average season last year, but that didnt mean I was totally off the map.
Whether Wie belongs in the same arena as golfs best players remains a hot debate.
I pull for her all the time, Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said.
Stuart Appleby says Wie continues to bring exposure to the Sony Open, but hes not sure when it will end, referring to it as a saga.
I think she came five years too early to play the mens tour, he said. She should really just let it go for now, come back when shes accomplished at a game thats more comparable to someone like Annika. Shes certainly not proving anything except that she cant play with the men at her level right now. Theres not doubt shes going to improve dramatically as a player and mature as a person.
But right now, he added, its just the wrong time.
When someone suggested that playing against the men was about marketing, Wie fired back.
I guess being the only girl on the baseball team when I was 4-years-old was also a marketing plan'not, she said. Its what I want to do. Some people take it as, Its a marketing plan to make more money, blah, blah. But they dont realize its what I want to do and I enjoy it. You cant trade happiness for anything.
Singh said he was rooting for her to make the cut so she can get on with the rest of her goals.
Id like to see her win, go out there and make a real name for herself, he said. Shes a great player and will be a great player on the ladies tour. I think she wont do that if she keeps playing here and doing what shes doing now. You have to feel a rhythm about your swing, but how can you? You cannot just jump on one tour, especially if youre a (17-year-old) girl.
The guys out there are not scared of anything, they are not even scared of the top guys, Singh said. So they are not really worried about a girl going out there and beating them.
And there is nothing to suggest they should be nervous. In her last two PGA TOUR events, Wie was last at the 84 Lumber Classic and withdrew from the John Deere Classic.