Tearful Wie Hopes for Return


04 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- HONOLULU -- Her cheeks were stained with dried tears. A box of tissue was at her feet if she needed them.
Only after her week at the Sony Open was over did 15-year-old Michelle Wie finally act her age.
'I'm just going to go for some retail therapy,' she said.
She might have better luck in the mall. The kid couldn't buy a putt at Waialae Country Club.
The result was a 4-over 74 in the second round on Friday, with a three-putt from 8 feet for triple bogey on her sixth hole that shattered her hopes of becoming the first female in 60 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
Wie ended on a positive note with a 10-foot birdie putt, walking off the 18th green with a rare smile.
All that got her was a tie for 128th, better than 14 men and the same score as Paul Casey, who four months ago was playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup.
She finished at 9-over 149, seven shots below the cut line and 17 shots behind Shigeki Maruyama, who had a one-shot lead over Justin Rose and Brett Quigley going into a weekend at Waialae without its biggest star.
'I think I just tried too hard,' Wie said.
The expectations were higher, especially after the she shot 68 in the second round last year with birdies on two of the last three holes to miss the cut by one shot. It was the best score by a female competing on a men's tour.
'Missing the cut by one last year, I kind of took it for granted that I was going to play better,' Wie said. 'Last year, everything went too easily.'
But she faced tougher odds this time around, mainly the strong Kona wind that came out of the opposite direction and made it difficult to find fairways.
Wie's problems came on the greens. She didn't make the birdie putts when she had them, and by the end of the round, the par putts became tougher. And the triple bogey crushed her spirit.
'I was like, `Oh, God, this is not what I wanted,' Wie said. 'Missing putt after putt, your shoes kind of get heavier and it gets harder, because your confidence goes down. Then you make a couple of bogeys and I thought, `It's just not my day today.'
Maybe it just wasn't a day for youth.
Four players from the Champions Tour all made the cut, including 53-year-old Dick Mast. He qualified Monday, then tied his career low with a 64 on Friday and was only six shots out of the lead. Craig Stadler (69), Peter Jacobsen (68) and Tom Kite (71) all get to stick around this weekend.
Not so for Wie.
Her hopes came undone when she was even par for the round, needing a 67 to make the cut, and her tee shot found the right rough on the sixth hole, blocked by tall, skinny palms. Wie found an opening and tried to play a low hook around the trees, but the ball never made it back to the short grass.
She left her wedge short, chipped over a hump to 8 feet and took three putts before she was done.
And then she was done.
'I thought, `OK, make six birdies instead of three.' I really tried out there,' she said.
Maruyama made it look easy, jumping into contention by playing a three-hole stretch around the turn in 4 under par -- an 8-iron to 3 feet on the eighth, holing the bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 ninth, and making a 20-foot birdie on the 10th. He held it together the rest of the way and was at 8-under 132.
'I was worried about my game, first tournament of the year,' he said. 'I'm not nervous now.'
Quigley (67) was tied for the lead until missing the green on No. 16 for a bogey. Rose holed out from a bunker on the brutal first hole for birdie, but gave that shot away by missing the par-5 ninth with a 7-iron and settling for par. Still, the 24-year-old Englishman will be in the last group Saturday.
And the tournament still has some familiar faces.
Past champions Paul Azinger and Jeff Sluman, each with 68, were in the large group at 5-under 135 that included Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman (68) and Stewart Cink (69).
Other familiar faces included Vijay Singh, the No. 1 player who salvaged a suspect round with a 30-foot eagle putt on his last hole for a 68, putting him five shots off the lead. Two-time defending champion Ernie Els hit the ball close all day and had to settle for a 67, leaving him another shot behind.
'That could have been a 60, I promise you,' Els said.
The focus now shifts to Maruyama and those chasing him. Wie planned to return Saturday for a television interview, then it's back to school -- but not for long.
She will return to the professional ranks next month on the LPGA Tour for the SBS Open across the island at Turtle Bay, then play twice more on the LPGA before spring break.
As for next year?
'I want another chance because I know I can do better than this,' Wie said.
Els believes Wie should get another sponsor's exemption to the Sony Open.
'That is not throwing an invite away,' he said. 'It's phenomenal what she is doing for the game.'
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