SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Long a phenom and a millionaire many times over, Michelle Wie couldn’t help but plug her latest venture Tuesday before the State Farm Classic.
She’s on Twitter.
So fans have another way to connect with her, even if they’ve been attached for years.
“I still am learning how to use it,” Wie said. “It’s a lot more complicated than I thought. It’s a whole new world, a whole new language. It’s a great way for the fans to really connect with the people.”
Besides navigating new territory on the Web, she is still trying to chart a course to the top of the leaderboard.
Winless since capturing the U.S. Women’s Amateur Publinx at age 13, Wie will take another shot when she tees off against a loaded field in the State Farm that features nine of the top 10 money leaders – Lorena Ochoa the exception.
Then, there’s a certain 19-year-old with a legion of fans, a few close calls and a hankering for honing her game against the men – on the PGA Tour and at the Masters. She just hasn’t quite figured out how to win on the LPGA Tour yet.
“Winning is an interesting matter,” said Wie, 16th on the money list. “You can shoot a really good round, you can shoot the best round you’ve ever had, but there are 143 other players out there that are trying to get the trophy. It’s a work in progress for me. I want to get that prize. It’s something that I really want, that I really desire.”
Wie has five second-place finishes, including one in the SBS Open at Turtle Bay this year, and she usually contends in the majors. But for all the tournaments she has played over the years, this still is her rookie year.
“I guess I don’t feel like a complete rookie in a sense,” she said. “But at the same time, I do because it’s my first time that I get to play more than six times a year, so it’s really exciting. I feel like I’m part of something, just being able to go to places I haven’t been before. … Just being out here, playing every week is great.”
She wants more, though.
And she’ll try to get it this week on a course – and in a state – where she’s experienced plenty of heartbreak.
In 2006, trying to become the first woman in 61 years to make a PGA Tour cut, Wie wiped out her chances with an awful first round at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. – 160 miles from here, along the Iowa border. Then, she succumbed to heat exhaustion on a sweltering second day and spent a few hours in the hospital.
Her run at the State Farm last year ended in misery, too, albeit a different kind. She delivered one of her best performances, only to see it end in a brutal way when she got disqualified.
She was in second place and just one stroke off the lead through three rounds, with her first victory in sight. Or so she thought.
Turns out, she didn’t sign her scorecard immediately after the second round. Instead, she left the tent where players sign their cards and was chased down by some of the tournament volunteers working in the tent who pointed out she hadn’t signed. Wie returned and signed it, but it was too late.
Tour officials learned about the mistake midway through the third round and disqualified her in a small office in a trailer afterward, spoiling what had been her best showing of the year.
That experience left her in tears, but it also left her looking forward to this weekend.
“It was a hard lesson learned,” Wie said. “I really enjoyed playing here, minus the little ‘oopsie’ that I had at the end. I had a fun time playing here.”
It just wasn’t a fun ending.
“This time around, I really want to show people,” Wie said.