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Michelle Wie turns back the clock

By John Strege

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- The idea of a 24-year-old turning back the clock would seem bizarre. Turning it back to what, when she was 16? Thirteen?

Michelle Wie.jpg

Yes, in fact. Michelle Wie, whose professional career largely has been defined by mediocrity, according to standards dictated by her teens, opened the Kraft Nabisco Championship Thursday with a round of five-under par 67 and is tied for second, one shot behind Shanshan Feng.

When she was 13, Wie tied for ninth in the Kraft Nabisco. She followed that remarkable performance with finishes of fourth, T-14 and T-3, the latter her best performance in the event, when she was 16. It was a stretch of golf that ramped up expectations, arguably beyond reasonable, that have never been met.

Wie entered the tournament 38th in the Rolex Ranking and has won only twice in her LPGA career, but not since August of 2010, the CN Canadian Women's Open.

How does contending in the Kraft Nabisco differ at 24 than it did at 13 or 16?

"I'm much more appreciative of it now," she said. "When you’re younger, it's, 'oh, yeah, that’s cool.' Now I’m a lot more appreciate that I have a chance."

This round was the third best she's ever played in the tournament (she has shot 66 twice). Her round was made largely from the ninth through 12th holes, when she went birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie.

“I just felt comfortable out there today," she said. My course management was good. I was aggressive on the holes I needed to be and conservative on the other ones."

(Getty Images photo)