Michelle Wie arrived at the US Women’s Open this week in the midst of her deepest career crisis to date (that’s saying something; there have been a few), but having carded a near-flawless 66 on Friday, she begins this afternoon’s penultimate round in the hope, if not quite expectation, of ending her wait for a major championship breakthrough.
Shocking in the context of both her recent form – a lack of composure on and around the greens has seen the 22-year-old amass a paltry $19,013 in 2012 – and, it must be said, the horrendous mismanagement under which she’s laboured for the better of a decade, Wie’s demolition of Blackwolf Run yesterday vaulted her from mid-table anonymity to within a shot of Suzann Pettersen’s 36-hole lead.
Though convincing, eloquent even, in its restatement of her claim to major-winning pedigree, Wie’s 66 nonetheless carries with it a series of awkward complications.
Not only will the Stanford graduate spend Saturday afternoon in the final group, a cauldron of swirling doubt and expectation – no place, one fears, for the fragile psyche of a serial underachiever – she’ll do so alongside her Solheim Cup bête noire, any icy competitor in whose pursuit she’s already suffered a measure of heartbreak and public humiliation.
The jury’s out – well ,this one is, anyway – on Wie’s capacity to mount a sustained assualt on the LPGA ranking, but should this one-time phenom pull off the most unexpected of coups this weekend, she’ll have displayed a truly heroic level of focus and self-belief to do so.