Wie Throws Hat into US Open Qualifying


USGAThe next step for Michelle Wie is the toughest test in golf. The 15-year-old from Hawaii entered the U.S. Open on Tuesday, although she faces a long and improbable road to Pinehurst No. 2.
The first stop will be an 18-hole local qualifier May 13 at Turtle Bay on Oahu, the same course where she tied for second in an LPGA Tour event in February from a shorter set of tees. Wie likely would have to finish first or second at Turtle Bay to advance to a 36-hole sectional qualifier in June.
'Michelle is excited about this,' her father, B.J. Wie, said from the University of Hawaii, where he is a professor. 'To make it through local qualifying will be challenging. I hope she can make it into sectional. That would be a good experience. For her making it into the main event will be difficult. Her chances will be low.'
Her entry left the USGA officials scanning the record books to see if any other woman had tried to qualify for the U.S. Open, the second-oldest championship in golf.
Wie also entered the U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifying for the second straight year, which she sees as her best chance of ever playing in the Masters. The winner of the Public Links gets an invitation to Augusta National.
A year ago, Wie came up two shots short of qualifying for 64-player tournament of match play.
Wie rose to national prominence by becoming the youngest winner of a USGA championship for adults, capturing the Women's Amateur Public Links at age 13. In her PGA Tour debut at the 2004 Sony Open, she shot 68 in the second round at Waialae Country Club and missed the cut by one shot.
Since then, she has taken a path like no other teenager in golf.
Now in the 10th grade at Punahou School in Honolulu, she already has played 20 times on the LPGA Tour, twice on the PGA Tour and once each on the Nationwide and Canadian tours.
She has been criticized for not playing against girls her own age and piling up trophies, but her father said she is driven by playing against the best.
'That's her main interest, going into the men's world,' her father said.
She has shown she can play just fine with the women. In three LPGA tournaments this year, including a major, Wie has tied for second, tied for 12th and tied for 14th two weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. If she were a pro, she would have enough money to be 10th on the money list.
Wie plans to play Turtle Bay from the back tees at least twice before local qualifying. Her father noted that the entry fee for the U.S. Open was $125.
'The USGA charges very little for an entry fee,' he said. 'In this state, that's the cost of one round of golf.'
Wie finishes the 10th grade at the end of the May, and her next tournament will be the LPGA Championship on June 9-12 outside Baltimore.
Her father said she would qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links on June 14 at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Pittsburgh. If she were to make it out of local qualifying for the U.S. Open, she would have to play the 36-hole sectional on the Monday and Tuesday before the LPGA Championship.
Wie already has qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills in Denver the last week in June, having tied for 13th last year at age 14.
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