Tearful Wie Hopes for Return

By Associated PressJanuary 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- HONOLULU -- Her cheeks were stained with dried tears. A box of tissue was at her feet if she needed them.
 
Only after her week at the Sony Open was over did 15-year-old Michelle Wie finally act her age.
 
'I'm just going to go for some retail therapy,' she said.
 
She might have better luck in the mall. The kid couldn't buy a putt at Waialae Country Club.
 
The result was a 4-over 74 in the second round on Friday, with a three-putt from 8 feet for triple bogey on her sixth hole that shattered her hopes of becoming the first female in 60 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
 
Wie ended on a positive note with a 10-foot birdie putt, walking off the 18th green with a rare smile.
 
All that got her was a tie for 128th, better than 14 men and the same score as Paul Casey, who four months ago was playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup.
 
She finished at 9-over 149, seven shots below the cut line and 17 shots behind Shigeki Maruyama, who had a one-shot lead over Justin Rose and Brett Quigley going into a weekend at Waialae without its biggest star.
 
'I think I just tried too hard,' Wie said.
 
The expectations were higher, especially after the she shot 68 in the second round last year with birdies on two of the last three holes to miss the cut by one shot. It was the best score by a female competing on a men's tour.
 
'Missing the cut by one last year, I kind of took it for granted that I was going to play better,' Wie said. 'Last year, everything went too easily.'
 
But she faced tougher odds this time around, mainly the strong Kona wind that came out of the opposite direction and made it difficult to find fairways.
 
Wie's problems came on the greens. She didn't make the birdie putts when she had them, and by the end of the round, the par putts became tougher. And the triple bogey crushed her spirit.
 
'I was like, `Oh, God, this is not what I wanted,' Wie said. 'Missing putt after putt, your shoes kind of get heavier and it gets harder, because your confidence goes down. Then you make a couple of bogeys and I thought, `It's just not my day today.'
 
Maybe it just wasn't a day for youth.
 
Four players from the Champions Tour all made the cut, including 53-year-old Dick Mast. He qualified Monday, then tied his career low with a 64 on Friday and was only six shots out of the lead. Craig Stadler (69), Peter Jacobsen (68) and Tom Kite (71) all get to stick around this weekend.
 
Not so for Wie.
 
Her hopes came undone when she was even par for the round, needing a 67 to make the cut, and her tee shot found the right rough on the sixth hole, blocked by tall, skinny palms. Wie found an opening and tried to play a low hook around the trees, but the ball never made it back to the short grass.
 
She left her wedge short, chipped over a hump to 8 feet and took three putts before she was done.
 
And then she was done.
 
'I thought, `OK, make six birdies instead of three.' I really tried out there,' she said.
 
Maruyama made it look easy, jumping into contention by playing a three-hole stretch around the turn in 4 under par -- an 8-iron to 3 feet on the eighth, holing the bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 ninth, and making a 20-foot birdie on the 10th. He held it together the rest of the way and was at 8-under 132.
 
'I was worried about my game, first tournament of the year,' he said. 'I'm not nervous now.'
 
Quigley (67) was tied for the lead until missing the green on No. 16 for a bogey. Rose holed out from a bunker on the brutal first hole for birdie, but gave that shot away by missing the par-5 ninth with a 7-iron and settling for par. Still, the 24-year-old Englishman will be in the last group Saturday.
 
And the tournament still has some familiar faces.
 
Past champions Paul Azinger and Jeff Sluman, each with 68, were in the large group at 5-under 135 that included Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman (68) and Stewart Cink (69).
 
Other familiar faces included Vijay Singh, the No. 1 player who salvaged a suspect round with a 30-foot eagle putt on his last hole for a 68, putting him five shots off the lead. Two-time defending champion Ernie Els hit the ball close all day and had to settle for a 67, leaving him another shot behind.
 
'That could have been a 60, I promise you,' Els said.
 
The focus now shifts to Maruyama and those chasing him. Wie planned to return Saturday for a television interview, then it's back to school -- but not for long.
 
She will return to the professional ranks next month on the LPGA Tour for the SBS Open across the island at Turtle Bay, then play twice more on the LPGA before spring break.
 
As for next year?
 
'I want another chance because I know I can do better than this,' Wie said.
 
Els believes Wie should get another sponsor's exemption to the Sony Open.
 
'That is not throwing an invite away,' he said. 'It's phenomenal what she is doing for the game.'
 
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”