Michelle Wie didn’t need a hole-in-one on Friday to maintain her three-shot lead at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
The 20-year-old Hawaiian shot a 3-under-par 69 at St. Charles Country Club and sits at 10-under 134 through 36 holes of the $2.25 million US event. Wie has a three-shot advantage over South Korea’s Jiyai Shin, who recorded seven birdies and fired a 5-under 67 to get to 7 under.
American Morgan Pressel and defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway are tied for third at 6 under. Pressel fired a 66 in her morning round thanks to seven birdies, while Pettersen birdied four of her last five holes to ride into the weekend with her second straight 69.
Seventy-three players made the cut at 4 over.
Wie aced the par-3 11th on Thursday en route to an opening-round 65, but the hole wasn’t as kind to her on Friday.
“I think (the fans) were very disappointed on 11 today when I made bogey,” Wie said with a laugh after the round.
If the Stanford University senior was all flash on Thursday, she was much more workmanlike on Friday as she made four birdies, one bogey and 14 pars in front of a massive crowd that was five people deep in places.
“I’m happy with my round today, and hopefully tomorrow I can make a lot more birdies,” said Wie, who is averaging 294 yards off the tee this week.
The local crowd will have three homegrown hopefuls to cheer on this weekend. Adrienne White of Red Deer, Alta., is the top Canadian, 1 over (77-68, tied for 24th), Montreal’s Lisa Meldrum is 3 over (77-70, T43), and Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane is 4 over (75-73, T61). The other 11 Canadians, including top money earner Alena Sharp of Hamilton, missed the cut.
The pre-tournament focus was the intense battle for the No. 1 ranking in the world, but a victory for Wie could push her closer to officially joining the planet’s elite if she can keep it going for two more days.
That, however, has been easier said than done for the 12th-ranked player in the world.
Wie had the 36-hole lead at the Tres Marias Championship in Mexico in April and finished third, which was her best showing of 2010. If there’s been a constant since she officially joined the tour last year, though, it’s her inability to string three solid rounds together.
She shot 73 in the third round of the Tres Marias after opening with 66 and 68. She carded another third-round 73, meanwhile, after opening the LPGA State Farm Classic in June with a pair of 69s.
In 2009 she shot 69-68-75 at the Wegmans LPGA, but she did follow up a 65 and 69 at the Jamie Farr Classic with a 70 and tied for third.
Wie bristled at the notion that third-round struggles have been a problem.
“Sometimes you have bad weeks and sometimes you have good weeks,” she said. “I’m just going out there and I’m not thinking tomorrow’s the third round or tomorrow’s the final round.
“I’m just going out there and focusing on every shot.”
Unfortunately for Wie, Shin is right on her heels. The 22-year-old South Korean already has seven career victories, including one in the Evian Masters in France last month.
Only the top three players in the world have a chance to leave Winnipeg at No. 1 in the world ranking, which means Shin, at No. 4, can’t take over the top spot. A win, however, would be just fine with her.
“I just focus on this week’s tournament,” Shin said. “To get (the) number one spot, I have a lot of time.”
The course has been playing hard and fast thanks to hot and breezy conditions, but it appears the players will get a break on Saturday with a forecast of sunny skies, a high of 23 C and light winds.