KOHLER, Wis. - Even as she climbed into the lead in the second round of the U.S. Women's Open on Friday, Suzann Pettersen took some time to admire Michelle Wie's big move into contention.
Pettersen, ranked sixth in the world, shot a 4-under-par 68 at Blackwolf Run on Friday and moved to 5 under for the tournament, but Wie had the low round of the event so far, a 66, to get to 4 under and put herself in position to break out of a season-long slump.
Pettersen was at 5-under 139 for the tournament. Wie was tied with Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Open winner, one stroke off the lead.
Michelle Wie follows the flight of a shot on the ninth hole during Friday’s second round of the U.S. Women’s Open.
Pettersen was playing in the group directly behind Wie.
"She was fist-pumping, every putt she looked at," Pettersen said.
After the round, Wie said she doesn't spend much time thinking about the attention she received as a child prodigy from Honolulu in the early 2000s, or whether some fans had written her off since then.
"I don't know if anyone gave up on me or not," Wie said. "I'm sure some did and some didn't. But I never gave up on myself, and today was a good reminder to myself that I can do (it) and I still have it."
Kerr, who was tied for the first-round lead at 3 under with Lizette Salas and Brittany Lincicome, posted a 71.
"I always draw on that experience, of course, but it's hard to predict what's an advantage and what's not an advantage," Kerr said of her previous Open win.
Sandra Gal, Inbee Park and Vicky Hurst shot 70 to reach 3 under.
Wie was 12 years old when she qualified for an LPGA Tour event in 2002 - making her at the time the youngest player ever to do so. She went on to compete in a handful of men's tournaments, but never turned her early stardom into consistent success. She has two career LPGA victories.
Now she's 22, a recent Stanford graduate and - at least before this week - struggling on the course.
Wie has missed six of eight cuts this season, although she says she has been feeling better about her game.
"The last couple of weeks it started to feel good," Wie said. "Things were coming. My scores weren't showing up as well. But it's a work in progress. Still a long way to go."
Wie knows she's got much to do if she wants to win the tournament, but is excited to have something to shoot for beyond simply making the cut.
"The fact that you're in contention to have a chance to win the U.S. Open is a big deal," she said. "I'm so grateful I have that chance right now. I'm really looking forward to seeing the crowds tomorrow and experiencing it all again."
Pettersen said Wie should be given some space to find her game at her own pace.
"I think you should give her a break," Pettersen said. "She just graduated, four years in college. That's pretty impressive to do that on the sideline of trying to compete out here. So now it's obviously a little different world for her. Now it's all about golf, and she has to kind of find her schedule, how to kind of work it out the best way for her."
Salas had a 73 to drop to 2 under, while Lincicome was 5 over after an 80.
"I did nothing right today," Lincicome said. "I couldn't drive the ball. I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't putt."
2 a.m.-European Tour French Open, GOLF
9 a.m.-PGA Greenbrier Classic, CBS
9 a.m.-U.S. Women's Open, NBC
12:30 p.m.-Champions Tour First Tee Open, GOLF