Michelle Wie West improves by 7 shots at Kia Classic; Inbee Park maintains lead


Michelle Wie West spotted a first aid cart following her around at the Kia Classic these past two days. Needless to say, she was glad that she didn’t have to call them over.

That alone is a victory for Wie West, whose wrist injuries have caused plenty of pain and heartache over the years.

When asked if everything felt good after the round, Wie West said, “Yeah, I mean, knock on wood. I do a lot of PT and stuff afterwards.”

After a struggling to an 81 on Thursday, her first competitive round since June 2019, Wie West posted a 2-over 74 on a much more pleasant Day 2 at Aviara Golf Club. She hit nine fairways, 10 greens and took 30 putts. She’ll now have the weekend off to prepare for next week’s ANA Inspiration, a place that’s always given her good vibes.

The cold, rainy conditions on Thursday in Carlsbad, California, didn’t make it any easier for the new mom to get back into competition mode. Wie West felt her game was much more consistent on Friday.

Kia Classic: Leaderboard

“Obviously still not where I want it to be,” she said, “but a lot of progress, and that’s the best thing. If I can improve by seven strokes every single day, I’ll take it.”

Meanwhile at the top of the board, seven-time major winner Inbee Park maintains her one-shot lead after a carding a second-round 69 to move to 9-under 135 for the tournament. Park, who hadn’t played competitive golf in three months prior to this week, said she still felt awkward at times.

Overall, Park said she’s pleased with her ball-striking and the number of opportunities she has given herself each round.

“You know, I hit good shots,” said Park, “and it’s just weird on these greens, because I hit the shots really close and I don’t make the birdie putt, but I kind of hit it to 15, 20 feet and I make those birdie putts.

“The holes I made today is pretty much I made probably 10- to 20-footers. But coming in last three holes I missed probably inside 5, 6 feet. So it’s just greens that really need patience.”

Kia Classic

Kia Classic

Sophia Popov tees off the 10th hole during the first round of the KIA Classic at the Aviara Golf Club on March 25, 2021 in Carlsbad, California. (Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Last year’s AIG Women’s British Open champ Sophia Popov considers Park one her golf idols, and after a second consecutive 68, Popov is at 8 under and just might have a tee time with the LPGA Hall of Famer over the weekend.

“I think the nice thing is that I played with her in Portland last year and she’s just a very calm person to be around,” said Popov.

“I really enjoy it because it almost gets me relaxed. Even though she’s out there making a lot birdies and shooting low, I think it’s something that I’m more comfortable or someone I’m more comfortable playing with because she’s very – she goes about her job very quietly and I like that. I enjoy it.”

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