Wie Bit of Trouble at 84 Lumber


84 Lumber ClassicFARMINGTON, Pa. -- PGA TOUR rookie Nicholas Thompson fired an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the 84 Lumber Classic at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa.
Michelle Wie, the 16-year-old phenom who finished dead last at the European Masters on the European Tour last week, continued her struggles against the men.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is tied for 125th, 13 shots off the lead.
She only managed a 5-over-par 77 on the longest course she has played with men. Heavy overnight rain also left the greens vulnerable, but did not give a lot of run in the fairways.
Wie began on the back nine Thursday and parred her first three holes. Then problems arose for the youngster. She bogeyed three holes in a row from the 13th and things did not get much better.
After that she parred out on her opening nine, Wie hit an ugly tee shot off the first tee. She could not reach the green with her second, but the 16-year-old gave herself a look at par from 18 feet behind the hole. Wie missed the putt to fall to 4 over par.
Wie played solid golf on the second nine, but missed some opportunities late in her round. She missed a 17-foot birdie putt at the seventh, then her 9-footer at No. 8 stayed above ground.
At the par-4 ninth, Wie landed on the putting surface with her second, but stared at a 50-foot birdie putt. She did not hit a good putt, then missed a 7-footer to save par.
The putter was the problem on Thursday as Wie needed 34 putts.
'I feel like if I can make some putts tomorrow, I can really shoot a low score,' said Wie. 'It all feels good. I'm hitting my irons good. It didn't feel like I shot a 5-over today.'
Wie trails Thompson by 13 shots, but several players closed the gap during the first round.
Will MacKenzie, the winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open last month, shot a 6-under-par 66 and is tied for second place with Greg Kraft, Robert Gamez, Ted Purdy, Nissan Open champion Rory Sabbatini and this year's Booz Allen Classic winner and former British Open champion Ben Curtis.
Three winners this season trail a fairly unheralded TOUR rookie, whose best finish on this season was a tie for sixth at the B.C. Open, played opposite the British Open.
Thompson flew out of the gate on Thursday. At the opening hole, he chipped in for birdie from off the green, then drained a 15-footer at the second. Thompson made it three in a row at the par-3 third when his 4-iron tee ball stopped 4 feet from the stick.
He parred the fourth hole, then returned to making birdies. Thompson reached the green in two at the par-5 fifth and nearly made eagle from 20 feet, but settled for a birdie.
At the sixth, Thompson hit a gap-wedge inside 4 feet and made the birdie putt. He hit another beautiful iron shot close to set up another birdie at the seventh.
All totaled, it was six birdies in his first seven holes.
'It was kind of throwing darts out there,' admitted Thompson.
Things cooled for Thompson at the eighth. He missed the fairway off the tee, then three-putted to fall back to minus-5. Thompson three-putted the ninth for another bogey, but he righted the ship immediately on the back nine.
At the par-4 10th, Thompson hit a wedge to 5 feet to set up birdie. He made it back-to-back birdies at the par-5 11th when his third stopped 6 feet short of the cup and he holed the putt.
Thompson hit a poor approach to the 15th and made bogey to fall back to 5 under par. He atoned for the error by knocking a 4-iron to 3 feet to set up an eagle at the 16th and hitting a 7-iron to 6 feet for a birdie at the 17th.
'I played well,' acknowledged Thompson, who is 181st on the PGA TOUR money list and desperately could use a big paycheck in hopes of keeping his card for next year. 'I hit a lot of good shots and I can't say much bad about the round.'
Reigning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Sean O'Hair, Charles Howell III, Tag Ridings, Hunter Mahan, Robert Garrigus and Marco Dawson are knotted in eighth place at minus-5.
Defending champion Jason Gore struggled to a 1-over-par 73 and is part of a group tied for 70th place.
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