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Looking for first win since 2014, Michelle Wie opens KPMG Women's PGA Championship with 3-under 68

By T.J. Auclair
Published on

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois -- Michelle Wie hasn't won a tournament since her victory in the 2014 U.S. Women's Open, which also happens to be her lone major win.

Could it be that her slump-busting win will come in another major?

With her 3-under 68 in the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields on Thursday, the 27-year-old was off to a fine start. When Wie finished her promising opening round with a 4-under 31 on the inward nine, she trailed clubhouse leader Chella Choi by just two strokes.

"I just had a lot of fun in tough conditions," she said. "It's tough out there, but you kind of have to laugh it off a little bit. It's a tough course."

Wie got out of the gate strong with a birdie at the par-5 first hole. But with back-to-back bogeys on the sixth and seventh -- six is a par 5 -- she made the turn in 1 over.

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The back nine is where she shined, picking up birdies on Nos. 10, 12 and 13 before closing out the round with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th.

Interestingly, Wie's putting grip changed throughout the round. She's going with a "whatever works" mentality since putting has been her achilles heel. Wie had 30 putts total on Thursday, seven of them one putts and one three-putt on the sixth.

"I literally just go and I'm like, 'This feels right,' and I just go with it," she said. "It's kind of a 'whatever' thing. I'm not really thinking about it too much."

Though she has yet to tally a win this season, Wie has been steadily building toward a "W" in 2017.

In 13 starts, Wie has collected six top-10 finishes -- including in four of her last five starts.

"I was sick of playing bad golf, honestly," said Wie, who missed the cut 12 times a year ago. "I was just sick of being down and really started this year with a really good sense of determination and motivation. I just want to be happy and have fun out there. It's a long time out there to be miserable. I just kind of made a pact with myself that I'm going to have fun and if I hit a bad shot, brush it off and just have fun out there."

With 12 of 14 fairways hit and 14 of 18 greens, there weren't a whole lot of bad shots from Wie in Round 1. But, there's still plenty to work on.

"I didn't feel good about my irons this morning," she said. "I didn't feel like I attacked a lot of greens. After I made the birdie on 10, I made a good short birdie putt there, and then I rode that confidence in. I think with the way these greens are, you have to have sharp irons out there."