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Frustrated by contending, Wie search for breakthrough win
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- In six LPGA Tour events this year, Michelle Wie has finished no worse than fifth. In three majors, she has finished a combined five shots out of the lead.
No wonder the 16-year-old from Hawaii is convinced she is closer than ever to her first professional victory.
Coming off a tie for second last week at the Evian Masters in France, Wie's next chance and final major of the year is the Women's British Open, where she tied for third a year ago in her last event as an amateur.
"I think a win is coming," Wie said Tuesday after her first look at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. "It just depends how lucky you are that week and how good you're playing. I think I'm playing very solidly, but it's a little frustrating that I have not been able to go to the next step. It's not because I'm lacking anything. It's just a shot here, a shot there.
"By doing this, I feel I'm learning how to win."
Wie appeared headed for victory last week in France when she had a two-shot lead with seven holes to play. But she bogeyed the 13th, Karrie Webb birdied the 14th, and the Australian Hall of Fame went on to win by one shot. Wie closed with a 68.
"Last week I was frustrated -- disappointed is a better word -- thinking, 'Oh I wish I could have done that,'" Wie said. "But, looking back on it, I played really good golf and played solidly until the end."
Wie picked up her largest career paycheck ($255,333), taking her earnings from six LPGA Tour events to just over $700,000. That's a nice supplement to endorsement deals that could figure to top $15 million this year.
All she needs now is a trophy.
Wie has four runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes in the last 18 months. While frustrated that she still doesn't have a title, she's happy with her consistency.
"If you look at the overall year, I feel this is the best I've ever played," Wie said. "Obviously, I wish I could have won a couple of events. But at least I'm not winning one event and then missing the cut in another. I am consistently being up there and I'm consistently playing good golf."
She's not bothered by critics who say she lacks the winning instinct.
"It's about my expectations," Wie said. "I don't really care what people say about my game. It's not because people expect me to win that I feel frustrated. I expect myself to win. But to get to second and third every week, I think that's pretty good.
"But I think I am ready for a win now."
Jeong Jang is the defending champion, having won last year at Royal Birkdale. Annika Sorenstam won the last time the Women's British Open was held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, beating Se Ri Pak by one shot to complete the career Grand Slam in 2003.
Dalhousie Golf Club touring professional Karen Stupples, a native of England, won the 2004 Women's British Open, which was her last tournament victory. She has one top-10 finish this season.
Webb, Pak and Sorenstam -- the three best players of their generation -- have won the first three majors of the year, and if either could capture the fourth major, it could go a long way toward helping them win LPGA Tour player of the year.
They could be in a for a blustery week, a far cry from last week at the Evian Masters.
Coming off temperatures in the 90s and calm, sticky conditions close to the French Alps, Wie found entirely different conditions near the northwest English coast.
"It was 30 degrees colder and 10 times windier than last week," she said. "It's just hard physically because the wind is so strong and beats you up. It feels like someone's slapping you around. But it's fun out there. I'm used to the wind and it makes the golf course what it is."