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Missed by a Wie bit

Phenom Michelle Wie shoots 2 under and finishes at par 140, missing the cut by one shot on PGA Tour stop.

By Times Staff and Wire Reports
Published January 17, 2004

HONOLULU - This is one time a 14-year-old girl dreads having the weekend off.

Michelle Wie battled to the very end Friday, making two birdies on her final three holes for 2-under-par 68 that left her one shot short of making the cut in the PGA's Sony Open.

"I cannot believe it," Wie said, exasperated that her par 140 wasn't enough to play on the weekend.

Maybe another time - like, soon.

The youngest player in the PGA Tour record books, Wie posted the best score ever by a woman competing against the men. Se Ri Pak had 3-under 69 last year in the third round of the SBS Super Tournament on the Korean PGA Tour, tying for 10th.

That was as low as Wie could have gone. She saved par on nearly half her holes, and two of her birdies Friday at Waialae Country Club were from at least 50 feet.

Still, it left a strong field at the Sony Open in awe.

"It's pretty incredible," former Sony Open winner Jerry Kelly said. "She's opening the door."

She tied for 80th, and finished ahead of 49 others who make a living on the PGA Tour.

Steve Allan shot 8-under 62, and at 129 held a one-stroke lead over Harrison Frazar (63) going into a weekend that won't have nearly the crowd or excitement.

Defending champion Ernie Els (64) was another stroke back at 9-under 131. He spent the afternoon in his hotel room watching Wie, with whom he played a practice round Tuesday.

Craig Bowden shot 64 playing with Wie, a round only his wife will remember.

Wie returns to the ninth grade at nearby Punahou School, but she left quite an impression - not only with her 68, but the strong finishing kick.

Despite a good chip to save par on No. 15, Wie knew she had to play the final three holes in 3 under to make the cut.

She didn't go down without a fight.

With the sun setting over Diamond Head, Wie belted her longest drive of the week, 311 yards down the middle. Her approach stopped 15 feet beyond the cup, and she holed it for her sixth birdie of the week.

She pulled her tee shot on the 189-yard 17th, the ball bouncing off the grandstand into the rough about 100 feet from the flag. Fighting to the end, she pitched to 4 feet and saved par for the eighth time in the round.

Wie needed eagle on the final hole to make the cut, and she gave herself a chance with another big drive, leaving herself 252 yards to the hole.

She hit 5-wood a little too much in the air and it landed softly in front of the green, rolling into the first cut of rough. With a packed grandstand quietly watching, her chip for eagle headed to the hole and turned away, running about 4 feet by to end her hopes of making the cut.

Wie finished in style with her seventh birdie of the week. She was trying to become the first woman in 59 years to make the 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event.

Babe Zaharias did it at the 1945 Los Angeles Open, then shot 76 and failed to qualify for the final round. No other women played on the PGA Tour until Annika Sorenstam last year at the Colonial.

Sorenstam had rounds of 71-74 to miss the cut by four. Connecticut club pro Suzy Whaley qualified for the Greater Hartford Open last year, but missed the cut by 13.

EUROPEAN PGA TOUR: Craig Lile shot 4-under 68 to move into a tie for first with Nico van Rensburg and Alastair Forsythe after two rounds of the South African Open in Somerset West. Colin Montgomerie struggled in the windy conditions and was nine back.

MASTERS TICKET INCREASE: Tickets for the Masters, among the most difficult to get in sports, are increasing 40 percent this year to $175, Augusta National Golf Club said. The four-day pass, which cost $125 last year, remains the least expensive of the majors. Tickets to this year's U.S. Open cost $350, while the British Open charges about $285 and the PGA Championship costs $375.

LINCICOME LEADS: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 1-under 71 in the third round of the South Atlantic Ladies Amateur at Daytona Beach to regain the lead going into today's final round. Lincicome, who won last week's Harder Hall Invitational, started fast with birdies on Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

"I was on a roll hitting straight and putting well," she said.

Her 54-hole total of 219 was one better than Sarah Huart, a senior at the University of California. Bradenton's Naree Song withdrew because of injury.

UNBELIEVABLE: A 64-year-old man aced two holes in one round, beating odds estimated at 67-million to 1. Tom Vilardo used a 6-iron on the 163-yard seventh hole and a 7-iron on the 123-yard 13th at the Riverwood Golf Club in Port Charlotte. "It was awesome," Vilardo said.

- Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

[Last modified January 17, 2004, 01:32:39]


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