Poor putting causes Wie to miss cut at Kraft

Michelle Wie uses an umbrella to shield herself from the sun on Friday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Stacy Lewis spoke for everyone when she said this about Michelle Wie’s putting: “It’s hard to watch.”

Lewis was paired with Wie last week at the LPGA Kia Classic, where Wie shot 77-79 to miss the cut. There was more of the same in the desert. Wie will miss the cut for the first time in eight years at the Kraft after shooting 73-77.

Wie dropped to her knees after missing a 3-footer for par on the seventh hole (her 16th). Her confidence with the putter had been zapped. She didn’t have much better luck with the long stick, hitting only 12 fairways in two days. But, as her swing coach David Leadbetter said earlier in the year, a shaky putter will contaminate the entire golf bag.

“You almost want her to just tap it in and kind of go with it,” Lewis said. “I think she needs to putt more like a kid.”

Wie knows she’s overthinking things. Yet when asked if things have gotten too technical over the years throughout her game, she quickly said, “No.” Anyone who has followed Wie’s career can easily call foul on that comment. There’s so much information being hurled in her direction, it’s a wonder her head doesn’t burst. She can’t hit a ball without four to five sets of eyes watching. It’s mind-blowing to watch a player with that much talent – who finished fourth at this event at 15 – struggle to make a cut. At the HSBC Champions, a limited-field event with no cut, Wie beat only one player: Sock Hwee Koh.

Last week at Kia, an important event for Wie judging by those ever-present commercials, Wie hit only six fairways each day and had 62 putts. She had 33 and 32 putts in her rounds at Kraft.

It’s difficult to keep track of the number of times Wie has switched putters and/or grips in the past year. She probably has left Nike imprints on practice greens around the world. It’s not that she has ever been known as a great putter. But this is starting to get ugly.

“It’s a work in progress,” Wie said. “It’s not something that’s going to change overnight.”

Lewis struggled with her putting on Day 1 and decided to make a last-minute switch. A TaylorMade rep drove up four putters for her to test, and she was on the practice green at 6:30 a.m. Lewis had switched putters in January but found putts were bouncing.

“Seeing putts go in breeds confidence,” said Lewis, who battled back with three birdies on her last 11 holes to get back to 1 over and see the weekend.

“It’s insanity to do the same thing over and over and try to get different results.”

Perhaps Wie needs to step away from the practice green for a little while. Some time away might give the demons a chance to escape. It’s a fresh chapter for the Stanford graduate, who now makes her home in Jupiter, Fla. It’s probably too much to ask that she gets some space upon entering the “real world.” Her mom, Bo, escorted her to the bathroom off the 17th tee, though it didn’t look like any fans were planning to rush her.

Her parents don’t seem to have any intention of backing off.

That’s too bad.

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