Wie Back On Biggest Stage

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Despite the absence of most of the top players from this week's John Deere Classic due to next week's British Open, tournament officials still have at least one thing to be happy about - Michelle Wie.
 
The 15-year-old Wie will tee it up for the third time on the PGA Tour and for the first time on the U.S. mainland. In both of her previous efforts, Wie has failed to make the cut - albeit by just one shot in the 2004 Sony Open and then by seven strokes in her Sony appearance this year.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will make her third PGA Tour appearance at the John Deere Classic.
Undaunted, the Hawaiian phenom still forges on in her effort to be the best she can be, despite the fact that the debate rages on about her presence in these events.
 
Whatever side you stand on, the fact that she is entered in the field makes the John Deere Classic a lot more noteworthy.
 
Without her in the field, the event is a tough sell as it can boast of just two players from the top-25 in the world rankings - David Toms and Stewart Cink.
 
With her in the field, the question at the John Deere Classic becomes a lightning rod for golf fans - will she make the cut or won't she.
 
It also makes for quite an interesting week for the players, each and every one of them hoping the young teen sensation is not listed above them at the conclusion of Friday's second round.
 
She beat 49 PGA Tour players at the Sony Open in 2004 and this year finished ahead of 14 players, including a pair of major champion runner-ups in Len Mattiace and Thomas Levet.
 
True, her best chance to make a cut was probably at the Sony in Hawaii due to her local knowledge of the course, but something says she is chomping at the bit to begin to prove more of her naysayers wrong.
 
And making the cut here would go a long way towards that goal.
 
Five for the Title
 
David Toms
Returning to the event for the first time since 2000, Toms brings with him quite a resume at the John Deere Classic. He won the title back in 1997 when it was known as the Quad City Classic. It was his first-ever PGA Tour title and then followed it up the next year with a fourth-place finish. He did, however, miss the cut in his last start when the event changed venues, going from the Oakwood Country Club to the TPC at Deere Run.
 
Stewart Cink
Stewart Cink currently holds the 30th spot on the PGA Tour money list.
Stewart Cink
Like Toms, Cink is the only other player in the field inside the top-25 in the world rankings. Having somewhat of a down year up to this point, Cink has seen his ranking drop from 10th in the world following his win at last year's Tour Championship, to 16th after his 15th place showing at the U.S. Open. After back-to-back top-5s in the season's opening two events, Cink has just one since, coming back in March at the Bay Hill Invitational.
 
Mark Hensby
Though not yet a household name, Hensby is starting to make some serious noise on the PGA Tour. His victory in this event last year was his first on tour and led the way to his finish at 15th on the 2004 money list. Though only two top-10s thus far in 2005, they both just happened to come in the biggest events of the year - a third at the U.S. Open and a fifth at the Masters.
 
Nick Price
The 48-year-old Price has obviously seen his game go into a decline since his hey days on the PGA Tour in the early to mid-90s, but he is still thought of as a great ball striker. If his putter can get hot, the guy still regarded as one of the nicest players on tour could possibly add to his PGA Tour win total of 18.
 
J.L. Lewis
Won his maiden PGA Tour title in this event in 1999, Lewis has good vibes at the John Deere Classic. In addition to his victory in '99, Lewis had a runner-up finish in 2003 and a tie for 8th in 2002. Last year closed out the weekend with a pair of 68s to place 27th. Had a strong showing at this year's Players Championship where he finished 8th.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more players to keep an eye on
 
* Esteban Toledo
Confidence high after winning on the Nationwide Tour last week in New York. The veteran PGA Tour player first played in the event back in 1986 when it was known as the Hardee's Golf Classic.
 
* Spencer Levin
The hot shot amateur turned professional at the U.S. Open but failed to make the cut and cash his first check as a pro. Has said he has learned to control his emotions and still has a world of confidence in his game. Finished 13th at the 2004 U.S. Open.
 
* Michelle Wie
Has the length to compete with the men, but short game and mental side of game is work in progress. Although a win is seemingly out of the question, Wie making the cut would be just as big for her confidence.
 
* David Duval
Almost as much as Wie, people would like to see the former No. 1 ranked player in the world make it to the weekend. Duval recently became a father for the first time and hopes to break through this week and make his first cut of the year.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - John Deere Classic