SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) – Once considered the future of women’s golf, Michelle Wie’s future has never looked more uncertain.
Rubbing an injured wrist and teary eyes, Wie withdrew from the U.S. Women’s Open halfway through her second round Saturday on her way to another score in the 80s. She was 6 over through nine holes when she quit after hitting her second shot on the par-5 first hole, telling her playing partners, “I’m done.”
The 17-year-old from Hawaii was 17 over for the tournament when she walked away, the second time in three tournaments she has withdrawn. For the year, she has completed seven rounds with an average score of just under 78.
And not even Wie was certain what to do.
“As of right now, I don’t know,” Wie said, wearing an ice bag on her left wrist, the defiant tone in her voice reduced to resignation. “I’m definitely going to think about all the options. I want to lay off again, but we’ll have to see.”
It was another setback for the teenager who turned pro in October 2005 and earns close to $20 million a year in endorsements.
Only a year ago, she had a share of the lead on the back nine of all three U.S. majors on the LPGA Tour, and made headlines around the world by coming close to qualifying for the men’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Her latest scorecard – withdraw, dead last, withdraw.
Wie played without a brace on her wrist at Pine Needles, but said her wrist was sore when she woke up Saturday to start her second round in the storm-delayed tournament. She said it flared up on a tee shot at No. 17, her eighth hole.
“And then after that, it kind of went downhill,” she said. “I don’t remember hurting this much.”
Wie’s next tournament is supposed to be the Evian Masters in France that starts July 25, but even that was up in the air.
“I definitely have to re-evaluate because I obviously don’t want this to happen again,” Wie said.
Wie finished second at the Evian Masters last year, closing with a 68.
She has not broken par since then.
The only thing she broke was a bone in her left wrist in late January when she fell while running, keeping her out of competition for nearly four months. When she returned at the Ginn Tribute in South Carolina a month ago, she withdrew after 16 holes with a wrist injury, only two bogeys away from facing a one-year ban for non-tour members who fail to break 88.
Then, she infuriated Annika Sorenstam by showing up at the next tournament two days later to hit balls. Sorenstam said it showed a “lack of class and respect,” and Wie countered that “I don’t think I need to apologize for anything.”
Wie already has withdrawn from the John Deere Classic, saying she wasn’t at full strength. But she played the Women’s Open, where she hit only four out of 21 fairways and six out of 27 greens.
Natalie Gulbis, who played with Wie the first two rounds, could tell Wie was struggling with pain in the wrist.
“She’s great for our sport,” Gulbis said. “She brings so many people out to watch us play and she’s a friend of mine. You just feel for anybody who has an injury. Nobody wants to stop in the middle of a round in the U.S. Open.”
Her advice to Wie was to get healthy
“But it’s hard to take the same advice. They told me that too,” Gulbis said of a back injury that forced her to withdraw from the LPGA Championship. “You want to try to play through it. We’re competitive.”
Wie said she probably would return to Florida and meet with doctors about her wrist, which she said hurts enough “to bring tears to my eyes.” But she wouldn’t commit to much of anything beyond that.
“I just have to re-evaluate, make some smart choices and just have to see how it works out,” she said. “But I’m sure everything will work out for the good.”
Wie is to enroll in Stanford this fall for her freshman year, which could give her the break she needs from golf. She rarely smiles on the golf course unless she acknowledges cheering for good shots. Those are rare, too.
“I definitely want to compete, because that’s what I like to do,” Wie said. “But (I) definitely have to think about my health and just work on it. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.”