Wie Climbs Back in the Saddle


2006 Weetabix WomenJust a few short days removed from another tough runner-up finish at the Evian Masters, 16-year-old Michelle Wie will again dust herself off and step back up to the plate at the Weetabix Women's British Open.
The LPGA Tour's last major of the season, the field will gather at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, site of Annika Sorestam's one and only British Open title back in 2003.
Michelle Wie
In order to collect her first win, Michelle Wie has to go through the likes of Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa.
With Wie already having performed as well as anybody on tour at the three majors in 2006 - she has lost by a total of five strokes in those three events - the Hawaiian teen is well aware that a major victory is not a question of if, but a question of when.
'Well, I feel like I have played very consistently lately and that is good because I feel like I am getting very, very close,' said Wie following last week's Evian Masters.
Certainly the biggest lightning rod in all of golf, Wie is up against what may be the greatest depth of talent that the LPGA Tour has ever seen, with the likes of Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak and a slew of blossoming South Korean players.
And although Sorenstam is not necessarily at her best this year, she is the winner of the last major these women played, a playoff victory over Pat Hurst at the U.S. Women's Open. Along with it being her second win of the year - and the third U.S. Open title of her career - the victory also boosted the Swede back into the Rolex Player of the Year race. It is an award she has won a record eight times.
Then there's the remarkable resurgence of Australia's Webb, holder of three tour titles this season, including the year's first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. By holding off Wie in France last week, Webb climbed to the top of the LPGA Tour's money list, leapfrogging both Ochoa and Sorenstam. It also moved her to the top of the Rolex Player of the Year rankings, a title she won in successive years in 1999 and 2000, and is now in good position to knock Sorenstam off that perch.
As good as the Wie, Webb and Sorenstam trio are, the aforementioned Ochoa is arguably having the best season of them all. In a stretch beginning with her runner-up showing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and finishing with her win at the Sybase Classic, Ochoa enjoyed an incredible six-tournament run in which she finished no worse than second place.
The four runner-ups and two wins have clearly shown that the proud Mexican deserves a seat amongst the game's elite. A rough double bogey-bogey finish in the third round of the Evian Masters ended up being the difference of Ochoa not making a playoff with Webb.
Add to the mix the wealth of South Korean talent - including soon-to-be Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, the sweet putting Mi Hyun Kim, and almost shoo-in rookie of the year Seon Hwa Lee - and you can easily see why it is so tough for Wie to capture her first win.
But by building on her performances of the recent past, Wie hopes to again be in the mix come Sunday's final round.
Last year's champion Jeong Jang will return to defend her title. Jang was the only player in the field last year to shoot all four rounds in the 60s en route to her four shot win over Sophie Gustafson.
The purse for the event is $1,800,000.
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