Despite performing before a hometown crowd on a course where she learned to compete, Michelle Wie stumbled to a 6-over 78 in the first round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii.
With pace-setter Beth Bader 10 strokes ahead of the native of Hawaii, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng sharing second place with Jiyai Shin, Brittany Lang, and Angela Stanford at 3-under, Wie will have to go way low on Thursday to make it to the weekend. In a tie for 112th, Wie has to get into the top 70 (and ties) to make the projected cut.
So much for home-field advantage.
“I was so excited when I heard that ... the LPGA [was] coming back to Hawaii, especially at Ko Olina,” Wie told reporters on Tuesday, prior to the start of the contest. “This golf course has so many special memories to me. ... I can't wait to tee up tomorrow and start the tournament.”
No doubt her excitement level took an immediate dip, when she double-bogeyed the par-4 second and par-3 fourth holes. Her flat stick was clearly an issue yet again, as she needed 34 putts in Wednesday’s opening round. Never a strong part of her game, Wie’s skills on the green have been on the downswing and show no signs of improvement.
Meanwhile, in the marquee match-up of former and current teen phenoms, Wie’s 17-year-old playing partner Lexi Thompson did not fare much better. The young rookie was up and down, with three bogeys and three birdies, for much of the day. A bogey, double-bogey finish, however, put her at 3-over and in a logjam at 69th place.
Jessica Korda, 19, perhaps the unheralded member of the threesome -- despite a stellar amateur career and one tour victory -- played steadily in the wind and found herself in contention at even-par.
As for Wie, who knows a little something about being a young prodigy on tour, she may be receiving a communications degree from Stanford but her math skills seemed pretty strong.
“I figured out I'm four or five years older than both of them,” she said. “I'm getting old, times are changing. I'm not the young one anymore.”
Other notables in the hunt this week include 2009 Kraft Nabisco champ Brittany Lincicome, two-time major winner Cristie Kerr, and 2007 LPGA champion Suzann Pettersen, who were tied with three others at 2-under.