Is Michelle Wie ready for US Open glory?
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

All smiles

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.

Conor Nagle