Notes Not Easy for Big Wiesy Ochoa Sinks at 18


2005 U.S. WomenCHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- Michelle Wie tugged on her cap and said ``Oh, my God!'' after missing a 2-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole. After a similar miss for par at No. 8, she covered her mouth in disbelief.
It was that kind of day for the 15-year-old from Hawaii.
Michelle Wie
Tied for the lead heading into Sunday, Michelle Wie in the end could only offer congratulations to winner Birdie Kim.
A co-leader with Morgan Pressel and Karen Stupples after three rounds, Wie spent most of the final round chopping out of the rough and missing short putts for an 11-over 82 -- her worst score in 12 rounds at the U.S. Open.
``Difficult would be too easy a word,'' said Wie, who finished tied for 23rd.
Wie hit into the thick rough three times to open with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 first, then had three more bogeys and another double on the ninth for a 7-over 42 on the front nine. She wasn't much better on the back, with three more bogeys and a double on the par-4 13th.
``One of the things I definitely have to do is get a GPS for my ball because it was lost out there today,'' she said. ``I mean, put a magnet in the ball or something because that thing was not going toward the hole.''
As she stepped up to the 18th tee, Lorena Ochoa had every reason to think she had a shot at winning the U.S. Women's Open.
For good reason. At 3 over, she was just a shot off the lead and most of the players behind her were backing up instead of making a charge.
Then, splash! Ochoa's chances were gone.
Snap-hooking her drive into the pond down the left side of Cherry Hills' finishing hole, Ochoa ended up with a quadruple-bogey 8 to finish 7 over for the tournament -- four shots behind winner Birdie Kim.
``It's hard to realize right now,'' Ochoa said. ``It's hard to live with right now, giving away the tournament after playing so hard for 71 holes, and then the last one. I feel bad it happened, but that's the way golf is.''
Ochoa, coming off a victory last week in Rochester, was one of the few players to mount much of a charge on the final day, climbing the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 16. She reached the final tee just a shot behind Kim and had a realistic chance at winning the Open if she could get into the clubhouse with a par.
She didn't come close -- to a par or the fairway.
Ochoa took a big chunk out of the tee box with her first tee shot and the ball landed with a splash 20 yards off-line. Her next one off the tee -- her third shot overall -- fell in the deep rough right of the fairway and she had to punch out to the short grass. Her fifth shot bounced hard and went into the grandstand behind the green. After a drop, Ochoa chipped onto the green and two-putted for a tournament-wrecking 8.
``It's very difficult,'' she said. ``Just trying to win the U.S. Open is the best thing for a golfer and I just gave the tournament away.''
Lorie Kane and Natalie Gulbis are $140,026 richer because Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang are amateurs.
Kane and Gulbis would have made $132,697 each for tying for fourth, but they got the money that would have gone to Pressel and Lang, who tied for second, because amateurs can't accept prize money.
Among the fans Sunday was former British Open champion David Duval, who lives about 200 yards away from the 17th tee at Cherry Hills.
Duval stayed for about an hour with his wife, Susie, and their 2-month-old son, Brayden.
``It's hard to watch a tournament from behind the ropes,'' he said.
The last time he went to a golf tournament as a spectator?
``Probably when I was about 16 at Sawgrass,'' he said of The Players Championship. Duval grew up in Jacksonville, Fla.
He next plans to play at the John Deere Classic in two weeks, where Wie has received a sponsor's exemption.
Birdie Kim won the U.S. Open with a birdie at Cherry Hills' finishing hole. She was one of the few who had any luck at the brutish par 4.
Playing 459 yards long and uphill to a green designed as a par-5 for members, the 18th was easily the hardest hole for the week. The longest hole in Women's U.S. Open history played to an average of 0.667 strokes over par and yielded just four birdies in four days. There were 45 scores of double bogey or worse and just 19 percent of the players hit the green in regulation.
Natalie Gulbis is known mostly for her swimsuit calendar and her new reality TV show.
This week at Cherry Hills, she showed that her golf isn't bad, either.
Gulbis opened the tournament with a 1-under 70 and closed with a 71 in a difficult final round, getting two birdies in the back nine to finish tied for fourth with Lorie Kane at 6 over.
``I hit some good some shots, hit some bad shots,'' Gulbis said. ``I mean, going into it my goal was to be even par for this championships, but it was a grind out there.''
Denver Broncos receiver Rod Smith was in the gallery ... Expect to see Rosie Jones at next year's Women's U.S. Open. The 45-year-old plans to retire at the end of the year, but said she would be back at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island next year if she finished in the top-20 and was exempt. Jones shot a final-round 75 to get to 10 over -- tied with three players for 19th. ... A crowd of 31,037 attended the final round, setting a U.S. Women's Open record. The weekly attendance of 131,137 also was a record, surpassing the 118,684 last year at Orchards Golf Club in Massachusetts.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
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