Teen misses PGA Tour cut by two strokes

Updated: July 9, 2005, 4:26 PM ET
Associated Press

SILVIS, Ill. -- Michelle Wie had the number she wanted, proclaimed to everyone on that sparkly buckle on her turquoise belt, and a historic finish was just four holes away.

Michelle Wie
No. 6 was the beginning of the end for Michelle Wie, who double-bogeyed the hole.

After one ill-timed three putt and a stray tee shot, though, she went from historic to just plain history.

On the brink of becoming the first woman in 60 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour, the 15-year-old from Hawaii was out after finding big trouble on two of her last four holes in the John Deere Classic. She missed the cut by two strokes, shooting an even-par 71 Friday that put her at 1 under for the tournament.

"It was pretty killer," she said. "Even though I finished below par, it still feels [bad] because I played so well the first nine and then I just totally messed up the back nine."

Wie was trying to become the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to make a PGA Tour cut, and she was on track to do it with room to spare after making the turn at 4 under. But she came apart in stunning fashion, dropping three strokes on Nos. 6 and 7, and then missing a last-chance birdie putt on No. 8.

As she walked off No. 9, her final hole, disappointment was etched across her face.

"It was a great experience," said her father, B.J. Wie. "Obviously we're disappointed. Michelle's disappointed. But it was a great experience and she's got to experience all things in golf."

J.L. Lewis, the 1999 winner, followed his opening 64 with a 65 to take the lead at 13-under 129. Shigeki Maruyama (63) and Hunter Mahan (68) were second at 11 under. Wie tied for 88th.

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"She played very well. Good putter, very good short game," said Scott Gutschewski, one of Wie's playing partners. "I was very impressed with her short game, and she hits the ball straight. So a pretty good combination for 15."

Wie played well beyond her years all week, but her inexperience caught up to her in those last four holes.

She ran into trouble on No. 6, when she put her first two shots in bunkers. She still had a chance for par, getting within 20 feet of the cup. But her first putt ran alongside the left edge and refused to drop, rolling about 5 feet by. She missed that one by inches, too, and had to take a double bogey, her first of the week.

Women to play in PGA TOUR Events
Babe Didrikson Zaharias 1938 Los Angeles Open Missed Cut
Babe Didrikson Zaharias 1945 Los Angeles Open Missed Cut
Babe Didrikson Zaharias 1945 Phoenix Open Finished 33rd
Babe Didrikson Zaharias 1945 Tucson Open Finished 42nd
Annika Sorenstam 2003 Colonial Missed Cut
Suzy Whaley 2003 GHO Missed Cut
Michelle Wie 2004 Sony Open Missed Cut
Michelle Wie 2005 Sony Open Missed Cut
Michelle Wie 2005 John Deere Missed Cut

"I guess I was too aggressive with my putt," she said. "I hadn't made a bogey, and I didn't want to. It felt like a straightforward putt. If I'd hit it a little softer, it would have gone in."

The double bogey dropped her to 2 under, with more trouble to come.

She pushed her tee shot on No. 7 so far right it bounced on the cart path. She got on the green from 35 yards out, but two-putted for another bogey, all but ending her chances for the weekend.

When her 14-foot birdie putt on No. 8 skirted the edge of the cup, the teenager from Hawaii sank to her knees. When she stood up, she looked skyward in disbelief.

"I just really realized how important the last six holes are," she said. "I'll just have to notice that it's really important and tighten my screws up a little bit."

And there will be a next time. Though B.J. Wie said his daughter doesn't have any other PGA Tour appearances scheduled, her long-term goal is to play with the men. She's already played the Sony Open twice, missing the cut by a stroke in 2004. She missed the cut by seven strokes this year.

Wie is playing in the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links next week at Shaker Run in Lebanon, Ohio.

"On the LPGA Tour, I made the cut on my fourth try," she said. "My fourth try [on the PGA Tour] is coming up, so I'm really looking forward to that."

A 1-under 70 in the first round put her a stroke over the projected cut, and Wie came out Friday looking determined to make up ground. She even wore a belt with a sparkly black "68" on the buckle, the number she wanted to shoot.

"I got it in France," she said. "I thought it was a really cool number."

She got off to a quick start, with birdies on two of her first three holes, including a spectacular chip shot on the par-3 No. 12. Her tee shot sailed off to the left, and it bounced once before smacking spectator Gene Lebo on the right leg above the knee.

"It wasn't getting past me," joked Lebo, who was wearing, appropriately enough, a Hawaiian shirt. "I played linebacker so I know how to keep the ball in the field."

The ball dropped into the first row of the gallery about 40 feet from the green, but it would have been a lot farther had Lebo's leg not gotten in the way. Wie still had a tough shot, with her ball in deep grass.

But she chipped on, and when the ball rolled slowly into the hole, Wie thrust both of her arms triumphantly in the air before slapping hands with her caddie.

"If [Lebo] is reading the newspaper, I want to say, 'Thank you,' and sorry for your pain," she said. "It turned out great."

She made the turn at 4 under after coming within 6 inches of the cup from 161 yards out on 18. The crowd of 10,000 greeted her with a standing ovation, and she acknowledged them with a couple of waves.

After tapping in for the birdie, a male fan yelled out, "I love you Michelle!" Wie turned and looked, laughing as she scanned the crowd.

But she wasn't laughing a few hours later.

"Definitely I'll care," she said. "But I won't cry."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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