"It's the U.S. Freaking Open and I'm not going to miss it for anything"

img10237850.jpgSteve Elling files the most entertaining report on Michelle Wie from Pine Needles:

Tuesday on the practice range at the U.S. Women's Open, Michelle Wie bashed away on the range under the watchful eye, and occasionally flippant tongue, of longtime swing coach David Leadbetter. As they left to play nine holes of practice, a local photographer approached and asked Leadbetter for his name. You know, for identification purposes in a newspaper photo caption.

As the Wie entourage piled into their electric carts and headed toward the 10th tee at Pine Needles Lodge, the lanky Leadbetter turned his head and deadpanned, "Butch Harmon."

What's more, he then repeated the answer as it was dutifully jotted down. Which is where the multiple-choice portion of today's fare comes in, since his smirking response probably means that:

A. Things are so bad in the Wie camp that the noted swing guru no longer wants to be associated with the struggling, 17-year-old prodigy;
B. Butch Harmon got a lot taller, skinnier, grew more hair and developed a foreign accent overnight;
C. The perceived pressure in the Wie camp of late has been so overstated, it's become laughable.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the avalanche of bad publicity Wie has endured over the past year, the answer appears to be C. By most folks' way of reckoning, the strain and suffering should have grown to insufferably high levels, considering her series of athletic and public-relations disasters of the past few months.

But teenagers are nothing if not malleable, right? The million-dollar baby continues to trundle along like a movie-star engenue, blissfully tuning out the bad karma, criticism and sniper fire as though nothing meaningful has happened.

In the eye of Hurricane Michelle, the wind never really blows.

"The worst feeling in life is when no one has any expectations of you," Wie said breezily Tuesday, "when no one expects you to do great things."

This just can't be good... 

Wie said her wrist -- which she says was fractured in a jogging fall over the winter -- is still far from 100 percent, but that she needs to play to regain the lost strength and flexibility, which is the proverbial Catch-22 if ever there was one. Wie has lost distance and remains tentative about over-taxing the injury, claiming she will only hit her driver a few times this week. But after four months on the shelf earlier this year, sitting out this week was not an option.

"It's the U.S. Freaking Open and I'm not going to miss it for anything," she said, drawing laughs.