Oh Deere Wie Misses Cut

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SILVIS, Ill. -- One ill-timed three-putt. A stray tee shot. Just like that, Michelle Wie 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 was out after finding big trouble on two of her last four holes in the John Deere Classic. Her even-par 71 Friday left her at 1 under for the tournament, missing the cut by two strokes. She finished tied for 88th.
 
Crowd Following Michelle Wie
Thousands were on hand to watch Michelle Wie Friday.
``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.
 
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.
 
But all the attention was on Wie, a ponytailed teenager from Honolulu.
 
``She missed two shots,'' tournament director Clair Peterson said. ``That's golf. It's risk-reward. She put herself out there and good for her. As Todd Hamilton said the other day, she's going to make a cut on the PGA Tour. If it wasn't today, someday.''
 
It looked as if it was going to be Friday until those last four holes.
 
Wie's troubles started on No. 6, when she put her first two shots in the bunker. 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.
 
``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.
 
``After those two holes, I was really just trying to make two birdies,'' she said, ``and my putts just kind of slid by the lip.''
 
No woman had made a PGA Tour cut since Zaharias at the 1945 Tucson Open, and it was another 58 years before another woman even tried. Annika Sorenstam teed it up at the 2003 Colonial, and Suzy Whaley played the Greater Hartford Open later that year. Neither made the cut.
 
Wie had played two other PGA Tour events, missing the cut at the 2004 Sony Open by a stroke. She fell short by seven strokes this year.
 
``On the LPGA Tour, I made the cut on my fourth try,'' she said. ``My fourth try is coming up, so I'm really looking forward to that.''
 
Wie doesn't have any other PGA Tour appearances set right now. She's playing in the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links next week at Shaker Run in Lebanon, Ohio.
 
``It was a great experience,'' said B.J. Wie, Michelle's father. ``I think it'll turn out to be good for Michelle. She'll be able to play practice rounds tomorrow and Sunday.''
 
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 was on pace to get it with a quick start, making 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, disappointed again.
 
``Definitely I'll care,'' she said. ``But I won't cry.''
 
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