Whaleys Experience Ends at 13-Over

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CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) -- Suzy Whaley's ever-present smile faded just slightly as she finished the second round at the Greater Hartford Open. Not because she was certain to miss the cut at 13-over, but because her whirlwind week on the PGA Tour was over.
 
''I wish I could explain to you how it feels to have that many people cheering for you all day long, for two days straight. It's the most wonderful feeling in the world,'' she said.
 
''So I was a little sad on the last putt. But it was a great, great week.''
 
The first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945, Whaley shot 78 Friday to finish near the bottom of the scoreboard. LPGA Tour star Annika Sorenstam was given a sponsor's exemption to play in the Colonial in May and shot 5-over to miss the cut there.
 
The Hartford cut, which could not be officially determined until the completion of the second round, was expected to be at 1-under. By late afternoon there were already 80 players in the clubhouse at even par or better, meaning Whaley's week was done.
 
Still, the score was irrelevant to the local club pro.
 
And just as irrelevant to the galleries that followed her around the course, wearing pins of support or shouting ''You go, girl!'' One young girl told Whaley: ''You're my hero.''
 
''For me, I think the greatest benefit in the world is every single young girl that was here today, including my own daughters, who watched me tee off with two men like it was not anything different than it should be,'' Whaley said.
 
''And I feel like I showed people that you can achieve anything. ... My girls know that now.''
 
While Sorenstam is the top player on the women's tour, Whaley was a teaching pro from a club in Avon who spent time on the LPGA Tour in the early 1990s before giving it up to raise a family. She has two daughters: Jennifer, 8, and Kelly, 6.
 
Whaley played her way into the tournament by winning the Connecticut PGA section last year. She hit from the women's tees in that event -- making the course about 10 percent shorter -- but she played the TPC River Highlands from the championship tees, a total of 6,820 yards.
 
After a short but steady round on Thursday left her at 5-over, Whaley struggled more Friday -- making three double-bogeys -- but also notched another birdie. Although she played most of the holes conservatively, she was unable to recover from the few mistakes she made -- recording 6s on the par-4 fourth, 15th and 17th holes.
 
She birdied No. 1, a 434-yard par-4, by sinking a 14-foot putt.
 
Whaley missed a four-foot birdie putt on No. 9, then tapped in to finish the round. Drawing the last of many huge cheers from the gallery, she held up a towel that said ''PGA Tour'' to commemorate her historic appearance.
 
''I thought I thought of every scenario,'' she said. ''I thought how it would be, but it was better than I could ever have imagined.''
 
Whaley said she will be back at the course Saturday to watch, with no definite plans after that. She would like to do television commentary and perhaps play in a few LPGA Tour events if she is offered sponsor's exemptions.
 
''My family is the most important thing in the world to me,'' she said. ''It's very hard to play high-level competitive golf when you have young children. And right now, that's probably a decision that I won't do.''
 
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