US Women's Open Golf: Michelle Wie's Leaderboard Charge Is a Win for Her Sport

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IJuly 7, 2012

KOHLER, WI - JULY 06:  Michelle Wie waves to the gallery on the ninth green during the second round of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open on July 6, 2012 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Michelle Wie is the Tiger Woods of women's golf. She doesn't have the titles—which is disappointing for her—but for her sport, it is of little consequence. She is the talent/player/persona that is going to move the golf needle. 

With this in mind, it is easy to see LPGA officials chucking stuff around the room in a celebratory delirium when Michelle Wie started rocketing up the 2012 U.S. Open leaderboard on Friday.

Entering Saturday's third round, Wie is four-under par and just one shot behind leader Suzann Pettersen. She didn't just quietly plod her way up the leaderboard either; she assaulted it.

Wie fired a tournament-low six-under 66 on Saturday. She was hitting fairways and drilling her approach shots in the process of carding a score that few thought was possible on the course called Blackwolf Run.

This is the kind of dominant performance most expected from Wie when she qualified for an LPGA Tour event at the age of 12. But it is not in any way what most expected after watching Wie struggle to find her game this year, and hack her way to missing six cuts.

Slump aside, Wie hasn't turned the LPGA on its ear like her prodigal talent once promised she would. She has just two career LPGA victories. 

But here she is now, at 22, in a great position to win the U.S. Open. Just the fact she is in serious contention is a huge boon for the sport. 

Despite being severely unaccomplished compared to the LPGA's top players, Wie is still the biggest name in her sport. She is the one player that people who don't follow the LPGA might know. Her contention is going to grab headlines, turn heads and create interest. 

If Wie stays on this roll into Sunday, the ratings for this tournament will trounce anything else the Tour has put up this year, and it will create a little buzz for the sport moving forward.