ROGERS, Ark. — Whether it’s because of her improved play or the reason for it, Michelle Wie appears as comfortable on and off the golf course as at any time in her career.
Wie continued her season-long surge on the LPGA Tour on Saturday, shooting her second straight 5-under 66 to take a two-shot lead in the suspended second round of the NW Arkansas Championship.
The performance put the U.S. Women’s Open champion within a round of back-to-back wins for the first time in her LPGA Tour career, not that she showed any signs of stress after reaching 10 under overall.
In fact, shortly after surging into the lead at Pinnacle Country Club, Wie joined PGA Tour pros Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley as part of a social media challenge in dumping a bucket of ice water on herself on the driving range.
Yes, life is good at the moment for Wie.
“I think it comes hand in hand,” Wie said about her winning and revamped attitude. “I played really well toward the end of the year last year … took a lot of time off, took about a month and a half. So, I just felt really refreshed, and I think it comes hand in hand.”
All 72 players in the afternoon session were unable to finish on Saturday because of thunderstorms, with second-round play expected to finish early Sunday before the final round begins later in the morning.
Before the rain arrived, the morning pairings were once again left chasing Wie — who earned her first major victory at the U.S. Women’s Open last week at Pinehurst after winning earlier in the season in her home state of Hawaii.
So Yeon Ryu, paired with Wie, was second at 8 under after her second straight 67, while Suzann Pettersen, Chella Choi and Line Vedel were three strokes back. Pettersen had a 67, Choi shot 65, and Vedel had five holes left.
Top-ranked and local favorite Stacy Lewis was four shots behind at 6 under, a week after finishing a shot behind Wie at Pinehurst. The two are training and practice partners in Florida, and Wie couldn’t help but challenge her friend to the ice bucket shower after her dousing.
“Michelle’s obviously playing some really good golf,” Lewis said. “I’m going to have to shoot a good number tomorrow. … At least I put a good number up today, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Lewis made the early charge Saturday to close within a shot of first-round leader Alena Sharp, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd — where Lewis played collegiately.
For the second straight day, however, Wie saved her best for the back.
She jumped into contention with a 4-under 31 on the back nine on Friday. After teeing off on the back nine Saturday, she once again closed with a flurry — birdieing four of her final seven holes to shoot a 4-under 32 and surge into the lead.
She putted 29 times on Saturday, a day after needing 28 in her opening round using her more hunched-over style.
Quicken Loans National
BETHESDA, Md. — Patrick Reed held it together Saturday at Congressional to build a two-shot lead in the Quicken Loans National and put himself in an ideal position.
He has never lost a PGA Tour event when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
Reed made three bogeys in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round and salvaged an even-par 71, giving him a two-shot lead over Seung-yul Noh, Freddie Jacobson and Marc Leishman going into the final round.
He was at 6-under 207.
Reed will try to become the only player with four PGA Tour victories in the last year, and history is on his side. He won the Wyndham Championship when tied for the lead going into Sunday, and he converted a seven-shot lead at the Humana Challenge and a two-shot lead at Doral into victories.
Reed matched the highest score to par for a 54-hole leader in a tour event at Congressional. The other time was in 1983 at the old Kemper Open.
Noh finished off his 5-under 66 — the best score of the third round — about the time the leaders went off. He was at 4-under 209, which looked better by the hour.
Jacobson made four birdies in his opening eight holes to reach 8 under, only to take double bogey on the 11th hole and a sloppy bogey on the par-5 16th hole. He wound up with a 71. Leishman was still only one shot behind until he failed to get up-and-down for par on the 17th and fell to a 73.
Senior Players Championship
PITTSBURGH — Bernhard Langer moved closer to his first Senior Players Championship victory, shooting a 4-under 66 in the third round to stay in front of defending champion Kenny Perry.
Langer was at 15-under 195 through 54 holes in the third Champions Tour major of the season.
Perry, trying to join Arnold Palmer as the only player to win the Senior Players in consecutive years, briefly took the lead midway through the round before settling for a 65 that left him three strokes behind.
Russ Cochran, Joe Durant and Bill Glasson were four back. Cochran had a 63, the low round of the day at Fox Chapel. Durant shot 67, and Glasson had a 68.
By wire sources