Michelle Wie has become the first woman to get through a local qualifier for the US Open by shooting an even par 72. She now advances to a June 5 36-hole sectional at Canoe Brook in Summit, N.J.
She’s a long shot to get through the sectionals, at best. But then again, I didn’t think she’d get through the local qualifiers. It’s not that she doesn’t have the talent—she clearly does. I just think that the pressure will get to her because she doesn’t have enough experience playing in high pressure situations. The men’s tournaments that she’s been playing in have essentially been exhibitions. No one expects her to do anything and she’s just happy to be there. It was the same in the major women’s tournaments that she’s played in: she was the wunderkind and no one seriously expected her to contend, so all pressure was off.
The US Open is different. From everything I’ve read, its less about skill than it is about handling pressure. There are plenty of people out there who can go under par on a US Open course. But to do it on demand … to pull a good score out of your bag, RIGHT NOW—ON THIS ROUND requires a different kind of player.
I know that I can’t do it. I have shot scores that would place me in the top five in my school district’s annual tournament. But I can’t seem to do it on the day of the event. (There is no way I could ever win it because we have a guy who shoots in the 60s every year—but the gap between him and the next best player his huge).
Bobby Jones once said “There are two kinds of golf; there is golf – and tournament golf. And they are not at all the same.”
And Harry Vardon wrote: “There are two kinds of golfers. The kind that can’t keep their nerves under control and the kind that win championships.” (Or something like that … I can’t find the exact quote in the book where I read it.)
Wie has also put more pressure on herself by declaring that it’s her goal to qualify. That means that starting on June 5, she HAS to pull two great rounds out of the bag.
I actually hope—because the story line would be fascinating—that she does it.
But realistically, I don’t see how.