Will Wie win in 2009


Michelle Wie will win this year on the LPGA. Wont she?
Theres a little sprinkle of doubt embedded in there but the odds that shell win are certainly greater now than they were over the past two years when DQs, MCs, DNFs and WDs were more common than the birdies and top-10 finishes she once produced with ease.
Wies turbulent career warrants recapping before trying to predict her future. The 19-year-old Hawaiian produced six top-5 finishes in major championships from 2004-06, including three of those coming in 2006 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (T-3), LPGA Championship (T-5) and the U.S. Womens Open (T-3).
Paula Creamer (1) and Morgan Pressel (2) have combined for only three top-5 finishes in majors, although Pressel did win the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship, making her the youngest ever to win a major.
But the Big Wiesy hit the skids in 2007-08 mostly because of damage ' both to her confidence and wrist. In 15 LPGA events during the two-year span, she missed six cuts, withdrew twice and had a controversial disqualification.
The DQ came at the State Farm Classic in late July when Wie was near full health and looking to regain form. She was in contention through three rounds but signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified. Had Wie signed her card properly shed have had a serious chance at victory and could have avoided LPGA Q-School at the end of the year.
The confidence hasnt existed for awhile, said Wies swing coach David Leadbetter, while shadowing his star pupil at Q-School. With the State Farm thing, as much as a debacle as it was, she realized that she could get back in the mix.
Wie used September, October and November to completely heal her injured wrist and worked diligently with Leadbetter on rebuilding her game and tightening her swing.
The fruits of her labor came via rounds of 69-65-72-68-74, good for a seventh-place tie at LPGA Q-School and a tour card for 2009. During the five days at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., Wie used the same length and precision that she displayed when she was piling up top finishes against the best players in the biggest events.
I have a clean slate, Wie said. I took the long way to get here, but I feel really good about it.
A smooth performance at Q-School shows that Wie is ready for her maiden professional victory. Team Wie says that shes likely to play between 12-14 events, which decreases her odds of multiple victories, but its not a stretch to think that shell win one.
If victory does come, its likely to come at a lower-tiered event where there isnt an abundance of top 10 players. Sure, Wie has always played well in major championships, but that was before Lorena Ochoa was Lorena Ochoa and before Paula Creamer was labeled the best player never to win a major. Both Ochoa and Creamer, clearly the top two players on the LPGA, will be difficult to beat in the four biggies.
Even if Wie were to win a major this year, that would only make her the third-youngest LPGA major champion behind Pressel (18 at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco) and Yani Tseng (19 at the 2008 LPGA Championship).
One thing that most Wie observers can agree on is that her success depends on the proficiency of her putter. Had she been better with the flat stick shed have won at least two majors by now. Instead, Wie tends to tighten up in pressure situations and her putting becomes more suspect. Not exactly a recipe for greatness.
Nevertheless, there will be loads of pressure placed upon Wies shoulders, which is something that ' after two years of playing poorly ' shes sincerely excited about.
I am looking forward to people having that high expectation of me and Im going to work hard because I have that same high expectation for myself, Wie said. So, Im just going to work harder.

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