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19

Wie finding her game

Source & Image Source: Star AdvertiserLPGA Hawaii

Hawaii's LPGA Lotte Championship is back for a sequel. Golfers from more than 20 countries tee off at Ko Olina in Wednesday's opening round, including nine of the world's top 10. Ai Miyazato defends her title.

All four days will be broadcast in prime time back east. Our weird weather is predicted to return to perfection.

But really, what most in Hawaii want to know this week at Ko Olina is what is wrong with Michelle Wie?

How can a player so gifted finish her classes at Stanford one week and flunk golf the next?

A year ago Wie, 23, was 24th in the Rolex World Rankings. Now the Punahou graduate is 91st. She made just 13 cuts in 2012, with one lonely top 10.

Wie made 13 LPGA cuts before she was 15, and came within a shot of making another against the guys at the 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii. Two years later she was ranked third in the first Rolex Ranking and barged into a U.S. Open sectional qualifier, finishing five shots short of playing at Winged Foot.

Two years after that Forbes magazine ranked her fifth on its list of highest-paid female athletes, with $12 million in endorsements. That staggering number has hardly changed — she still represents Nike, Kia, Omega, McDonald's and Sime Darby — but after winning twice and collecting 20 top-10s since officially joining the LPGA in 2009, last year was shockingly mediocre, a word rarely associated with Wie. She finished 64th on the money list and outside the top 125 in fairways hit and putting.

"The window hasn't closed," broadcaster Judy Rankin said at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major and last tournament, where Wie was 40th. "What we have to find out now, and only time will tell, is if there are just too many scars."

Confidence and comfort are everything, and Wie, who tees off at 7:50 this morning in the Pro-Am and 12:20 p.m. in Wednesday's first round, has been searching for those zones for a year now.....Read More

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