Michelle Wie found controversy and asked for patience. Will Wie miss the cut? Will Annika be a factor? Intrigue abounds at wide-open LPGA Championship

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - Annika Sorenstam is mad at Michelle Wie, speaking out in unprecedented-for-Annika fashion about Wie's Ginn Tribute withdrawal, but her own game is subject to more questions than it has ever been heading into the LPGA Championship at Pete Dye's Bulle Rock golf course.

Lorena Ochoa steps onto Pete Dye's beloved Bulle Rock as the most dominant force in women's golf, and the biggest head case. No one - least of all Ochoa herself, apparently - seems confident she is ready to finally win a major and validate her new No. 1 standing.

Michelle Wie ... well, she's coming right out and asking her rabid fans for patience.

Welcome to the LPGA Championship, the tournament where no one has any clue what's going to happen. When the first shot is hit at 7:15 a.m. Thursday, there will be so many questions swirling around this suburban Baltimore golf course that the Riddler is probably a more fitting sponsor than McDonald's.

"It's the most wide-open major I think we've had in years," LPGA vet Michele Redman said.

It's intrigue that the LPGA desperately needs. Commissioner Carolyn Bivens surely hopes the pre-tournament sniping between her biggest stars will attract more eyeballs to more high-def sets.

Sorenstam takes a shot at Wie's "lack of respect and class." Wie fires back, "I don't think I need to apologize for anything." Malice = marketing.

"It's just I played bad and that's what golf is," Wie said of her notorious 16-hole exit from the Annika-hosted Ginn Tribute. "Sometimes you play good and sometimes you play bad."

With the prospect of a Tiger-Phil showdown at the U.S. Open dominating golf-fan chatter, the LPGA could really use Wie playing good or bad at Bulle Rock.

Even before Wie introduced the world to the 88 rule last week there were rumblings that the LPGA Championship could be the major where she misses the cut.

And she's not exactly conjuring up the confident spirit of Joe Namath, talking at her pre-tournament press conference about how's "lost a lot of distance, lost a lot of clubhead speed" (albeit while "gain[ing] a lot of love for the game").

"I'm letting people know right now that I just want to ask people to have patience," Wie said. "Because I'm not 100 percent right now. I'm going through a hard time. It's my first time facing an injury."

Annika's agony

No one's ever doubted Sorenstam's commitment to winning. She's gunning for her fourth LPGA Championship and 11th major. But only a week back from a neck injury, she finds herself a major underdog for the first time in nearly a decade.

Sorenstam acknowledges that she hasn't been able to practice as much as she'd like and telling reporters she feels "quite rusty." Still ...

"Never count me out," she added, "that's what I'm telling you."

Sorenstam does love Bulle Rock and its drivable par 4s, like the dramatic 18th with marsh running along its entire left side. But Ochoa, with two wins and three runner-up finishes this year, clearly loves playing almost anywhere at the moment.

Ochoa declined to handicap the field, except for saying at her press conference that "majors take a little bit more experience."

Meanwhile, as another Wie controversy rages and Ochoa answers questions about another late lead lost just last week, 19-year-old Morgan Pressel, winner of the year's first LPGA major, has been quietly going about her practice at Bulle Rock.

Heck, even Laura Davies, who last won on American soil in 2001, is talking about liking her chances.

Something crazy is going to happen at Bulle Rock. Though probably not that crazy.

June 6, 2007

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Comments Leave a comment
  • MICHELLE WIE

    Joe Cool wrote on: Jun 6, 2007

    YES, WIE WILL MISS THE CUT!!

    Reply

      • RE: MICHELLE WIE

        Michael Sherman wrote on: Jun 7, 2007

        Reply

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