Michelle Wie's choice of a sectional qualifying spot for the U.S. Open is one of those good news/bad news situations. The good news is that it will likely have the most positions available of any of the 14 sectional qualifiers. The bad news for Wie is that it will also likely have the most PGA Tour players in the field. Wie, the first female to advance out of local qualifying in the men's Open, will try to make it to Winged Foot GC from the 36-hole qualifier at Canoe Brook CC in Summit, N.J. The summit will, indeed, be a steep climb.
There will only be about 75 spots up for grabs in sectional qualifying, and the two spots likely to get the most PGA Tour players are Canoe Brook, because the Barclays Classic in nearby Westchester County, N.Y., follows the qualifier, and at Brookside G&CC in Columbus, Ohio, because the Memorial Tournament is the tour's previous stop. Canoe Brook is limited to 156 entrants and Brookside to 144. In 2004, when a sectional qualifier was held at Canoe Brook, 138 golfers competed for 22 spots and it took a score of 140 to get into a playoff for the final spot. That means Wie would have to beat 85 percent of those in the field to advance. The club's North Course (par 72) will play at about 7,000 yards, while the South Course (par 70) will measure close to 6,700 yards. All players will play one round on each course.
Among those already entered at Canoe Brook are Billy Andrade, Briny Baird, Ricky Barnes, Jonathan Byrd, José Coceres, Robert Damron, Bernhard Langer, Len Mattiace, Mark O'Meara, Tom Pernice, Brett Quigley, J.J. Henry, Kevin Stadler and Vaughn Taylor. The medalists in 2004 at Canoe Brook were David Morland IV and J.P. Hayes at 134. Stadler qualified with a 137 and Henry with a 139. Wie, who has been given a special exemption by the USGA into the U.S. Women's Open, will go right from Canoe Brook to Bulle Rock in Maryland for the McDonald's LPGA Championship, the second women's major of the year. She missed a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major, by one stroke.
"Playing in two U.S. Opens, the men's and the women's, I think that's remarkable," Wie said after winning the local qualifier on the Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii with an even-par 72. "I'm just hoping to get through this, and I'm going to practice my butt off for the summer."
The U.S. Open is June 15-18 at Winged Foot, and the U.S. Women's Open is June 29-July 2 at Newport CC in Rhode Island.
Ron Sirak is the executive editor of Golf World magazine.