Older, wiser Wie on verge of major break at Pinehurst

golf-WiePressMaybe Michelle Wie, whose quest for a major championship has gone unfulfilled, has waited until just the right time to break through.

The former teen sensation said she would like to be part of the history at Pinehurst No. 2, and she might be lining up to do so.

“I love the way the USGA set it up,” Wie said. “I feel like we’re making history this year playing at Pinehurst, same stage as the men.”

Wie put together a 68 for the second day in a row and that catapulted her into the second-round lead in the U.S. Women’s Open on Friday.

Wie, at 4-under 136, holds a three-shot lead on Lexi Thompson, who made a late-day charge to 1-under by matching Wie’s 68.

Wie is halfway to winning her first major. The 24-year-old has seven top-10 finishes in tournaments this year.

Wie said her motivation has never waned and that her dedication might be paying off.

“I think that it’s a lot more fun when you work hard,” she said. “The results show. I’ve been very, patient, even when I didn’t play well.”

First-round leader Stacy Lewis, amateur Minjee Lee of Australia and Amy Yang of South Korea are at even-par through two rounds. Lewis slumped to a 3-over 73 in the second round.

Wie’s latest 68 came without much drama as she put together a steady round. Starting on the 10th hole, she didn’t have a bogey until reaching the par-4 first hole and she closed the round with back-to-back birdies.

Wie’s 15-foot putt for par on the second hole and a 24-footer on the sixth hole allowed her to escape trouble.

“End of the day (Thursday), I was just thinking if I just did this again that would be nice,” Wie said. “Finishing with two birdies is really nice.”

Thompson wrapped up her second round on the front side and it was a good stretch. She made birdies on three consecutive holes (Nos. 3-5).

“I think that’s all about U.S. Women’s Opens, you just have to stay patient and there was a few birdie holes on my second nine,” Thompson said. “So I knew I could make a few birdies there.”

Wie completed her round before afternoon rain. Only three golfers who began in the morning recorded a score under par, with Yang and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew joining Wie. Yang and Matthew had 69s.

Wie cautioned looking too far ahead despite expressing her motivation to win the tournament.

“I think the U.S. Open, as an American, is one of the most important tournaments,” she said. “At the same time, Sunday is a very, very long time, far away.”

Yang played in Wie’s group for the second day in a row.

“I felt I did what I need to do and I enjoyed the game,” Yang said.

Lewis, who had the only bogey-free round in the entire field Thursday, made a bogey on the first hole. She had an erratic opening stretch, with only two pars across her first eight holes while playing the front nine in 2-over.

Lewis pulled it together later, playing the last five holes in 1-under.

“I got to 1-over and kind of thought that I’ve got to keep myself in this,” Lewis said. “I’ve got to keep hanging around. By no means am I out of this thing.”

Lee said she is pleased with her position going into the weekend.

“It is my first (U.S. Women’s Open) and I’m in contention, so I can’t ask for anything more,” she said.

Lee seemed particularly pleased to be on the same leaderboard as former champion Karrie Webb, who is also from Australia.

“I grew up looking at her as my idol, so it’s pretty cool to be up there with her,” Lee said.

Japan’s Sakura Yokomine had a 68 on Friday, pulling her into a seventh-place tie at 2-over.

Photo courtesy of LPGA

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