BETHLEHEM, Pa. – U.S. Golf Association officials felt the disappointment hit when Michelle Wie failed to make it through a sectional qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open.
Wie isn’t in the field at Saucon Valley Country Club this week.
“We got some darts and arrows shot our way from marketing people,” said Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition.
Davis, however, said the association never considered offering Wie a special exemption, as it did in 2004. Wie was 14 when she got the controversial special exemption.
“That didn’t sit well with some, both in the media and some of the players,” Davis said. “So it was never seriously considered. I think back then, Michelle had won the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, and I think given the fact that she had done that at such a young age, and was such an up-and-comer, that’s really the reason the USGA did it at the time.”
The new exemption criteria implemented by the USGA this year came under scrutiny with Wie and Natalie Gulbis failing to earn exemptions.
Last year, the USGA exemptions included the top 40 from the previous year’s LPGA money list and the top 35 from the current year’s (as of June 1).
This year, that was changed to the top 50 from the previous year and the top 10 in the current year. Wie, a rookie, would have made it under the former system as she was ranked among the top 35 in money on June 1. Gulbis, who struggled with injuries last year, also would have made it among top 35 money winners this year. Gulbis also failed to make it through sectional qualifying.