That dismal run of recent play could end this week. Wie was as hot as the near-100 degree weather in Friday's second round at Blackwolf Run, shooting a six-under-par 66 to storm into contention at four under par. It was really a round that came out of nowhere. "I felt like it was coming the last couple of weeks and it was nice that it came together today," Wie said about her best round of the year (the last time she broke 70 was her first-round 68 in the Honda LPGA Thailand in February). "Yesterday, I had a lot of 40-foot putts and today I had a lot from 15 feet. I have to say it felt pretty good to see my name on the leader board. I don't have to worry about the cut line, so it feels pretty good."
The tour has been a rocky ride for Wie, who recently graduated from Stanford University. Despite two LPGA wins in her career, she has fallen far short of the expectations set so high when she was playing against the men as a 14-year-old and missing the cut by just one stroke at the SONY Open. It seemed like she was going to be "all that" when, in that 2006 season, her first full season as a pro, she was T-3 in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and T-5 in the LPGA Championship in addition to the T-3 at Newport CC in the Women's Open. But later that summer, at the Evian Masters, Wie had a two-stroke lead with seven holes to plays, watched Karrie Webb birdie three of the next six holes and didn't break par again until a year later -- back at Evian. The 2007-08 seasons were a mess plagued by a series of injuries and serial poor play.
Since joining the LPGA for the 2009 season, Wie has been steady but unspectacular, as other young stars, including Yani Tseng, have sprinted past her in terms of accomplishments. Perhaps the worst thing that happened to Wie was that near-miss in the 2004 SONY Open, where she shot 71-68. It made it seem she was that close to being able to compete with the men when in fact she made a ton of long putts as the cup kept getting in the way of her ball on what was essentially her home course. She competed 12 more times against the men -- never making a cut -- before abandoning that experiment but not before getting her once fluid swing out of whack and suffering a serious setback to her confidence.
Now, after four and a half years earning a Stanford degree, Wie is seemingly set to focus on golf full time. She's turns 23 in September and is no longer the wunderkind on tour. Lexi Thompson shattered the record once assumed Wie would own when she won an LPGA event last year at the age of 17. Wie, who suffers from variety of food allergies, is extremely thin but still averaged 286 yards off the tee in the first round at Blackwolf Run and 270 in the second. "I don't know if anyone gave up on me or not," Wie said. " I'm sure some did and some didn't. But I never gave up on myself, and today was a good reminder to myself what I can do and I still have it."
Two more days like today, and she will have her first major championship.