Michelle Wie aims to end season on a high note

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Before the CN Canadian Women's Open was delayed by rain and hail Friday afternoon, a mid-day sun beat down on the ninth hole at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, and Michelle Wie was a picture of cool as she strode the green to put the finishing touches on her round.

Wie, decked out in long black pants and taking sips from a bottle of water, watched as Canadian playing partners Alena Sharp and Maude-Aimee Leblanc were let down by their approach shots and left to contemplate fates more difficult than hers. Wie, meanwhile, wasn't left sweating in her final LPGA event of the season and perhaps her final one for some time to come, due to the fact she hasn't secured her tour card for next season.

"I'm not really thinking about that right now," Wie said after following up an opening-round 3-over-par 75 with a 2-under 70 Friday that qualified her for weekend play. "If I play good, everything will take care of itself. That's what I'm going to focus on.

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"It's my last tournament, so I want to end on a good note and hopefully it'll be a really good one."

In Ottawa on a sponsor's exemption - one of six she received for LPGA events this year after failing to earn her card last season - the 18-year-old Stanford University student will still need a miracle in order to earn enough to propel her into the top 80 on the money list.

That means that she's either going to have to earn her card through qualifying school or face another year of limited appearances.

However, after being on the defensive for so much of this summer for flirting with the men's game on the PGA Tour at a time when she can't make the LPGA grade, she's just glad to be playing on the weekend in Ottawa.

"If it was in a perfect world, I'd be a lot more under (par), but considering the circumstances, I feel like I did a really good job (Friday)," the Honolulu native said.

In her last LPGA outing, she failed to sign her scorecard in the State Farm Classic and was disqualified, but Friday, playing in front of a large gallery for the second day in a row, she started from the 10th tee and posted three birdies over her first nine holes to go along with two bogeys. On Thursday, she'd bogeyed three times over the same nine and failed to notch a single birdie.

She had eight pars and a birdie over her final nine holes, avoiding a double-bogey seven on the par-5 No. 6 that dogged her in Round 1. She also managed to cut her number of putts from 30 to 28 for the round.

"I felt a lot more confident with my putter and just a couple of more shots in the fairway, more shots into the green," Wie said. "I had a lot of great up-and-downs (Friday). There were a lot of moments during the round where it could have gone either way and I just feel like I grinded and I just really played it through.

"I'm proud of myself for shooting under par (Friday) and I think it just opens up for (today) and Sunday. I'm just really excited."

Wie was playing with Sharp at last year's Ginn Tribute tournament and closing in on violating "Rule 88," which sees a player who breaks that score banned from events for the rest of the season, when she withdrew citing a wrist injury. Sharp later told reporters she felt Wie did so in order to save her status, and Sharp also remarked that she felt sorry for Wie.

Friday, however, the players expressed mutual admiration. Sharp was happy to enjoy the spotlight provided by Wie's large following.

"I love playing in front of a crowd, so I thought it was a lot of fun, definitely," Sharp said. "I've played with Michelle before and the crowds weren't as big. Even though I'm a Canadian, I felt like they were out there to watch her more than me."

Meanwhile, Wie said the Canadians were "a lot of fun to play with," and complimented Leblanc's ball-striking. She also insisted she's feeling happy and healthy these days overall.

"It's a lot of fun," she said. "It's a lot more fun, actually, when your hand doesn't feel like it's going to come off. It's fun again. I realize it's just a game and I'm starting to have a lot of fun out there.

"Before it was a grind, it was seriously a struggle, but now I'm feeling like it's a game and I just take it as a game because it is a game."

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/feat ... 7b374771be


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