Wie Once Again on PGA TOUR

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84 Lumber ClassicFARMINGTON, Pa. -- A large billboard inside the main entrance to the sumptuous Nemacolin Woodlands resort where this week's 84 Lumber Classic will be held pictures only two golfers: Michelle Wie and John Daly.
 
Even in a field featuring five Ryder Cup golfers and past major winners, Wie remains a subject of fascination and bewilderment for tournament sponsors, fans and fellow players alike -- and, of course, all in the latter group are fellows only.
 
Wie is a 16-year-old whose game seems on the verge of making her one of the world's top female players, yet she still wants to prove that she can play the full 72 holes in a PGA TOUR tournament.
 
Her recent results are not promising. She dropped out of this summer's John Deere Classic after being overcome by oppressive heat, then finished dead last in last week's European Masters in Switzerland by shooting a 78-79-157 in her only two rounds.
 
Up next for a teenager who needed a blue slip from her Hawaii high school to skip class this week is the big hitters' 84 Lumber, a tournament where it's not by coincidence that Daly is the unofficial host. The mountaintop course stretches 7,511 yards, seemingly half the distance between nearby Uniontown and big-city Pittsburgh, yet Wie is confident that this -- finally -- is the week it happens.
 
'I would love to make the cut,' she said Tuesday. 'I would love to make the top 20. But I'm not going to rush it.'
 
No female golfer has made the men's cut since multi-sport talent Babe Zaharias did so at the 1945 Tucson Open. However, that is only so much ancient history for Wie, who, curiously enough, found herself studying high school senior-level European History last weekend while trying to make some history of her own.
 
'It's going to happen,' Wie said. 'I know it's in me, but I've just got to play hole by hole and not really think about the cut. ... It's really hard to do, but I never get discouraged.'
 
However, Wie has shot 77 or higher in four of the last five rounds she has played against men, except for an Asian Tour event in May where she made the cut against a weak field.
 
Daly has played several rounds with Wie on the Mystic Rock course at Nemacolin, and isn't so sure if she has the game for this tournament, though he seems less opposed to her participation than others. Joe Hardy, 84 Lumber's founder, and daughter Maggie Hardy Magerko, who runs the lumber firm, wanted to invite her to previous tournaments, yet didn't because they were discouraged by some of the top PGA TOUR players.
 
'I think if she had won a few LPGA events, her chances of having more confidence playing against us might be better, but you never know,' Daly said. 'If you have the opportunity to do something in life like this, you've got to take advantage of it.'
 
Heavy rain expected Wednesday might make the course play even longer and probably won't benefit Wie, who missed the cut in nine of her first 10 men's pro tournaments on various tours.
 
'She's probably practicing going, `God, why does it have to rain?' ' Daly said. 'She hits a lot of fairways, and she's going to have a lot of long clubs into the greens, and her short game is going to have to be on.'
 
Wie agreed with Daly, saying, 'It's just going to be really interesting for me this week to see how I can handle a really long course. It's the first time for me.'
 
Wie is already a force among the women, though she has yet to win. She twice tied for third and tied for fifth in LPGA majors this year before a tie for 26th at the Women's British Open. Wie plans to play in two more tournaments this year after 84 Lumber, the Casio World Open for men in Japan and the LPGA's Samsung World Championship.
 
'People think I have to master the LPGA before I get to the PGA, but my feeling is a little different on that,' she said. 'I'm trying to win a lot of (LPGA) tournaments. But it's just so different out there that I feel I have to play in PGA TOUR events just to get better at PGA TOUR events. I just have to go through it, work on it and learn from it.'
 
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