PARKER, Colo. – Standing by the ninth green, an onlooker watched Michelle Wie settle into that unique putting stance of hers and said “Have you ever seen a giraffe drink water?” Google it. The giraffe is a dead ringer.
Jokes aside, Wie scared the hole so many times in afternoon fourballs that one couldn’t help but think she might be onto something. Of course, Wie’s birdies on the back nine Friday came from a terrific wedge game, but she’s getting closer with the putter.
“She’s putting beautifully,” said Wie’s partner, Cristie Kerr, one of the LPGA’s most beautiful putters.
The Wie-Kerr pairing is wildly successful. In three Solheim Cups, they’ve amassed a 3-1 record. On Friday afternoon, the two took down Euro’s yin and yang, 17-year-old Charley Hull and 43-year-old Catriona Matthew, 2 and 1. That anchor match was crucial for Team USA, which watched its two brightest stars – Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer – leave Colorado Golf Club on Friday evening pointless.
Wie looks confident playing alongside Kerr, and the two do a fine job of not letting their idiosyncrasies get in the way.
“She has fun with me because I think she can put up with me,” Kerr said.
Everyone laughed, but then Kerr followed with, “It’s actually true.”
Mallon, when asked why this pairing works, simply said: “Michelle puts up with the Kerrisms.”
And Kerr, to her credit, doesn’t let the hoopla that follows Wie get to her. She enjoys the mentoring role.
Watching Kerr walk putts into the hole is fun for a number of reasons. The confidence she exudes gets fans and teammates riled up. It’s so brassy at times that it’s comical. In short, great theater for a tour that never gets its due.
On the par-4 10th, Kerr actually walked toward the crowd rather than toward the hole when she knew her putt was center cut, thrusting a clenched fist for added exclamation. Two holes later, Kerr bowed to Wie after her bunker shot rolled to within gimme range. Kerr, from the same bunker, nearly holed it.
But it was the par-4 13th hole that delivered the magic, for it was there that Wie took a drop from the grandstands and then chipped her third shot into the hole. What followed was a celebration that will lead the highlight reel, with Wie doing a dance-run down the center of the green that was so emotionally charged you’d think the Solheim Cup had been won. It’s the happiest Wie has looked in years.
“I love match play, I love Solheim Cup, I love my country and I love Cristie Kerr,” said an ecstatic Wie after the round.
Wie’s father, B.J., was so pumped that he nearly lost his voice. He said he’d never seen his daughter so nervous as she was after the recent Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews, waiting to find out if she had made the team.
“She can’t be so mechanical in a Solheim Cup,” said B.J., when explaining why she thrives in this competition. “She has to make birdies.”
It’s obvious that this week is a confidence-builder for the tour’s most well-known player. She’s 5-3-1 in three Solheim Cup experiences.
On Saturday morning, Wie will go out in foursomes with Brittany Lang while Kerr will sit out. Look for Wie and Kerr to be back together again, however, in the afternoon.
“It feels great to have a point,” said Wie, her dark red lipstick still looking fresh. “We’re just going to kill it the next two days.”