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Wie Is Missing During 74

She whiffs as part of a quadruple bogey that leaves her seven shots back of Sorenstam and Ochoa after the first round at Bighorn.

October 13, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

If there are any more days like Thursday for Michelle Wie, one day after her 17th birthday, then she is already discovering new ways to age. Wie bounced balls off cart paths, sent them next to bushes, beneath branches and even whiffed once -- on the same hole -- all the while exploring many more parts of Bighorn Golf Club than she wanted, or possibly could find on a map.

Wie made a quadruple-bogey eight at the par-four 14th, where she hit her drive against a cart path, took a free drop, whiffed, hit her next shot under a bush, took an unplayable lie, then knocked it out to the fairway, reached the green in six and two-putted.

The entire sequence, including consultations with the rules official, lasted nearly 30 minutes.

Wie had a shorter description of what had happened, right after she missed the fairway: "I hit it and I didn't hit it and then I hit it out."

And so it went for Wie, on her way to an adventurous two-over 74 in the first round of the Samsung World Championship at Palm Desert. She's already seven shots behind.

That's because Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa followed the conventional game plan, took advantage of Bighorn's generous fairways and speedy greens and shared the lead after opening with 67s, one shot ahead of Sophie Gustafson and Seon-Hwa Lee.

Stacy Prammanasudh and Paula Creamer are three shots off the lead.

Ochoa, who is 25 under in her last five rounds, said she didn't mind the delay at the 14th tee, where she and Sorenstam waited for Wie to confer with rules official Janet Lindsay and then get out of trouble. Ochoa had a sandwich and received restaurant tips from Sorenstam.

"I guess it was a good time to take a little rest," Ochoa said.

Sorenstam said she understands how anybody can get into trouble if you don't knock the ball into the fairway.

"Once you miss the fairway, there's really nothing," she said. "You can be behind a rock, behind a bush."

Sometimes, it all happens at once. Wie has had experience in this tournament with taking drops -- she was disqualified last year for an infraction over taking a bad drop. So she got to know Lindsay well at the 14th hole, and she also asked for two other rulings, at the 10th hole, where she had to hit off a cart path, and at the 11th.

Wie said she made the right decision by not going back to the tee to reload at the 14th.

"It was a bad situation to be in, but I felt like I really hung in there," she said.

Lindsay, an LPGA rules official for 12 1/2 years, said she has never seen a stranger set of circumstances. She said Wie's trouble could have lasted even longer, but a series of holes where Wie was standing were judged not to belong to burrowing animals, so it was safe to play.

Wie was one under when she got to the 14th, three over after she finished it, and she birdied the 17th hole to get one shot back. The scoreboard had listed her at one under through 17, which was wrong by three shots. Wie saw the scoreboard at the 18th.

"I thought, 'Hey, maybe I'll act like I didn't have that eight,' " she joked.

But she did, her troubles magnified by whiffing on her swing after getting a free drop off the path.

"I completely missed it," she said.

With the wind gusting and swirling, it was a good day to keep the ball in the right places, and a good day for fashion statements. For instance, it was difficult to tell Creamer and Natalie Gulbis apart. They both wore orange shirts, white caps and ribbons, but Creamer's was red and Gulbis' was orange. There was one other difference. Creamer shot 70 and Gulbis had a 74. Gustafson also made a statement, donning a Boston Red Sox cap.

Wie, with dark sunglasses and dangling black earrings, was hard to miss, and fans lined up behind a fence to wait for an autograph after her round. She said her whiff was her first. And she didn't need a ruling to say so.

thomas.bonk@latimes.com

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The first round

Results from the $875,000 Samsung World Championship at Bighorn Golf Club (par 36-36 -- 72):

*--* Annika Sorenstam...34-33--67 -5 Lorena Ochoa...34-33--67 -5 Seon-Hwa Lee...33-35--68 -4 Sophie Gustafson...33-35--68 -4 Stacy Prammanasudh...35-35--70 -2 Paula Creamer...35-35--70 -2 Cristie Kerr...35-36--71 -1 Se Ri Pak...34-37--71 -1 Karrie Webb...36-35--71 -1 Sherri Steinhauer...39-33--72 E Pat Hurst...36-36--72 E Meena Lee...36-38--74 +2 Mi Hyun Kim...40-34--74 +2 Natalie Gulbis...36-38--74 +2 Michelle Wie...35-39--74 +2 Juli Inkster...37-38--75 +3 Hee-Won Han...36-40--76 +4 Brittany Lincicome...37-39--76 +4 Jeong Jang...40-38--78 +6 Gwladys Nocera...38-41--79 +7

*--*

SECOND-ROUND TEE TIMES

*--* 9:20 Jeong Jang, Gwladys Nocera 9:30 Hee-Won Han, Brittany Lincicome 9:40 Michelle Wie, Juli Inkster 9:50 Mi Hyun Kim, Natalie Gulbis 10 Pat Hurst, Meena Lee 10:10 Karrie Webb, Sherri Steinhauer 10:20 Cristie Kerr, Se Ri Pak 10:30 Stacy Prammanasudh,Paula Creamer 10:40 Seon-Hwa Lee, Sophie Gustafson 10:50 Annika Sorenstam,Lorena Ochoa

*--*

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