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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2008

Wie feels healthy again

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Michelle Wie posted three top-five finishes in majors in 2006 and won a total of $731,000 that season. But a pair of wrist injuries in 2007 saw her finish 90 over par in 20 tournaments. Michelle Wie posted three top-five finishes in majors in 2006 and won a total of $731,000 that season. But a pair of wrist injuries in 2007 saw her finish 90 over par in 20 tournaments.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Michelle Wie feels she is close to full health for the first time in more than a year. And she would like to think good performances are right around the corner.

Wie will play in this week's Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on a sponsor exemption for the second time. In 2003, at the age of 13, she finished two rounds in 3-over and barely missed the cut.

"I remember I hit driver on every hole," Wie said yesterday at Highland Meadows. "But I loved the golf course and I'm really excited to be back. I feel privileged."

After a highly-successful 2006 season when she posted top-five finishes in three women's major championships and earned $731,000, Wie careened off the track in '07 after a pair of wrist injuries. She competed in eight LPGA events, including the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Open, and completed 20 rounds in 90 over par.

She said recently that if she had it to do over she would not have played such an extensive schedule.

But she also admitted that such a decision "would have been hard to make because it's not in my personality," she said yesterday. "I felt like at any moment I could turn it around. But that's the past. All I'm thinking about is the present, about playing well this week and then next week and see where it takes me.

"I'm just trying to take it slow, keep recovering and working through everything. My wrists don't hurt when I play now, so that's progress. That's good."

The Farr will be Wie's fourth event of 2008. The 18-year-old Stanford University student tied for 72nd at the Fields Open in Hawaii and showed progress with a tie for 24th in the Wegman's LPGA, where she finished 4-under. She missed two cuts, including the Women's Open where she carded rounds of 81-75.

BRITISH QUALIFIER: The first two rounds of the Farr Classic will again serve as a qualifying tournament for the Women's British Open, a major championship for the ladies. Five spots in the British field are available.

Wie responded to a question during her interview session yesterday that the qualifying opportunity was one of the reasons she wanted to play this week.

"I would love to play in the British Open, so hopefully things will work out this week," Wie said.

An LPGA spokesman said the qualifier, based on regulations set by the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) of Great Britain, was for LPGA members only who signed up to compete while registering for the Farr. Wie is a professional, but not an LPGA member.

FINAL VISIT: Robert O. Smith has never missed a Farr Classic at Highland Meadows, but this week marks his final appearance as the LPGA Tour's on-site tournament official.

Smith will retire at the end of this year, saying "it's time to spend more time with my bride."

It was at the 2005 Farr Classic that Smith, known as "Robert O." to just about everybody, proposed to his wife Carolyn. He popped the question on the big video board near the 18th green.

Smith, a former PGA club pro who played in the 1974 PGA Championship, is completing his 20th year as an LPGA tournament official. He is one of 10 employed in that position and each has primary oversight of a certain number of tour stops. The job includes advance work and being the tour's presiding on-site administrator during tournament week.

"I never missed this one," Smith said of the Farr Classic. "My schedule was cut back this year since I'm on the way out, but I didn't want to give up this event. The people are just so nice and I've really cultivated a lot of friends here. I'll miss Toledo."

BAD BACK: Tournament host Jamie Farr called it quits after nine holes of the Toledo Edison/ProMedica Health Systems Pro-Am at Inverness Club yesterday.

Farr Classic tournament director Judd Silverman said the actor experienced muscle spasms and that he hoped to be OK to play in today's National City Celebrity Pro-Am at Highland Meadows.



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