Notes Big Dreams for Wie

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2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Michelle Wie doesn't need a special exemption for the next U.S. Women's Open because she finished in the top 20 at Orchards Golf Club.

That doesn't mean she won't experience U.S. Open qualifying.

B.J. Wie said his daughter likely will enter the 18-hole local qualifier for the men's U.S. Open, part of the plan for the 14-year-old from Hawaii to compete more against the men next summer.
 
Wie, who tied for 13th place at the Orchards with 17-year-old Paula Creamer, tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links and missed by one shot. It was her fourth time playing against the men. She previously missed the cut on the Canadian, Nationwide and PGA Tour, although her 68 at the Sony Open to miss by one shot turned heads.

Next year, she is expected to play in the Western Amateur and try the Publinx qualifying again.

'She learns a lot when she plays against the men,' said B.J. Wie, as he prepared for a 10-day break away from golf while visiting family in Los Angeles. 'The only thing she wants is to get better than she was the year before.'

The USGA took some heat for giving Wie an exemption instead of having her go through 36 holes of sectional qualifying like Creamer, Erica Blasberg and the rest of the Curtis Cup team.

What would have happened had Wie finished outside the top 20?

She might have received another exemption next year, anyway.

'The slate is wiped clean from this moment forward, ' USGA executive director David Fay said Sunday as Wie was about to start her final round. 'I hope we are in a situation where we have amateurs that, by their play, earn consideration for a special exemption.'

And what of Creamer?

The senior-to-be at Leadbetter Golf Academy tied for second and finished 13th in consecutive weeks on the LPGA Tour. That came after the field was set for the Women's Open, and Fay said Creamer's performance the last two weeks might have been considered for an exemption next year.

Alas, none of it matters. Both secured spots in the field at Cherry Hills in Denver. But the USGA made it clear that they are looking as much at amateurs as they are past major champions, such as Betsy King and Dottie Pepper.

The question for Creamer is whether she shows up at Cherry Hills as an amateur.

Her father, Paul Creamer, said she has a multitude of options that include going to Q-school in the fall but still finishing up her senior year of high school. Creamer already has taken college visits to Arizona and Arizona State, and plans more visits this fall.
 

ORCHARDS FUTURE
USGA executive director and baseball fanatic David Fay referred to Orchards Golf Club as a late-season acquisition for the U.S. Women's Open.

Lake Merced pulled out of the rotation about the time Orchards inquired about hosting another U.S. Junior Girls. Fay knew the course because his wife is a Mount Holyoke alum, and he gave it the biggest event in women's golf.

It turned out to be a great week. The Donald Ross course was well-received and there were record crowds.

The Women's Open is scheduled to visit well-known courses such as Cherry Hills, Oakmont, Interlachen and Pebble Beach over the next several years. Where would a quaint course like the Orchards fit in?

Somewhere in the schedule, most likely.

'It is linked to the oldest women's college in America, built by a father for his daughter. It works,' Fay said. 'Given the success here, if the college invites us back, this would have to be given consideration -- unless we don't want to go to places where you have the most crowds ever and the players think it's an exceptional course.'
 
ONE YEAR LATER
Dan Wilson has a unique perspective on how much Michelle Wie has matured in one year -- not just her golf at the U.S. Women's Open, but her etiquette.

Wilson caddied for Pat Hurst last week and they played final two rounds with Wie. A year ago, he was working for Danielle Ammaccapane when fireworks went off the first two days at Pumpkin Ridge. The teenager hit out of turn and her father-caddie, B.J. Wie, was accused of moving around the green as others were trying to putt.

Wilson said there was no trouble at the Orchards, and that Wie was no different than any other player.

'It was a joy to be paired with them,' he said. 'It was a totally different experience from last year.'

Wilson didn't want to talk about the incidents last year that led to B.J. Wie accusing Ammaccapane of bumping his daughter, and Ammaccapane berating Wie in the scoring tent. But he said he was a little apprehensive about the weekend pairing, and pleasantly surprised how it went.

'She was great,' he said.

Ammaccapane did not play at Orchards because she is pregnant.
 
GRAND OPENING
Now this is how you break in a golf course.

Tom Lehman played a tournament to commemorate the opening of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., which he co-designed with architect Casey O'Callaghan. When he got to the 231-yard fourth hole, Lehman hit a 5-iron that looked good all the way -- a hole-in-one.

So, what does Lehman think of the hole?

'Too easy,' he told The Orange County Register. 'I need to redesign it.'
 
DIVOTS
Natalie Gulbis has released her 2005 calendar that features the California blonde in swimwear, casual clothes and athletic outfits. It came out last week at the U.S. Women's Open, where she tied for 37th. Meantime, the equally fetching Paula Creamer, 17, tied for 13th and shared low amateur honors with Michelle Wie. ... Tiger Woods (7) and Retief Goosen (2) are the only players with multiple majors since 1999. On the LPGA Tour, they share the wealth. Karrie Webb has won six majors since 1999, followed by Annika Sorenstam (5), Juli Inkster (4) and Meg Mallon and Se Ri Pak with two each. ... The USGA is looking for a golf course in Britain for U.S. Open qualifying next year. Among the issues is making sure the club's membership does not discriminate against women.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer have played four LPGA Tour events this year. Had they not been amateurs, Wie would have earned $191,526 and Creamer would have made $190,236.
 
FINAL WORD
'Because I was too fat.' -- Darren Clarke, when asked why he went on a diet. Clarke has lost 44 pounds and 6 inches around his waist since September.
 
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