INCHEON, South Korea – Michelle Wie accomplished something in her ancestral homeland she had failed to do in seven previous tries elsewhere: The American teen made the cut at a men’s tournament.
With huge crowds cheering for the player they cherish as “big sister,” Wie was at 5-under 139 after two rounds, tied for 17th in the Asian Tour’s SK Telecom Open. She shot a 3-under 69 in the second round Friday to make the cut by five strokes.
No woman has made the cut on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias at the 1945 Tucson Open.
“It’s just wonderful. Great. I feel really, really happy,” the 16-year-old said. “Now I want to play well tomorrow. It’s not over yet.”
When she fired her fairway shot on the 220-yard third hole, a toddler in a flowery dress shouted “on-ni (big sister) fighting!” as Wie strode by.
The SK Telecom Open is the eighth men’s professional event for Wie. She has played in four PGA Tour events and has competed on the Japan, Nationwide and Canadian tours, missing the 36-hole cut in all seven tournaments.
“In the future, I still want to challenge the PGA Tour and make the top 10,” Wie said.
Galleries of at least 1,000 people gathered around each hole she played, and police controlled traffic clogging an expressway that passes along the Sky 72 Golf Club course as onlookers cheered her bunker shot over a bluff on the 16th.
“I really enjoy that kind of thing,” Wie said. “Police officers came to the people who stopped their cars and told them to move. The gallery was crowded and they made so much noise. It made me laugh a bit.”
The Hawiian-born teenager became the second woman to make the cut at a men’s tournament in South Korea. LPGA star Se Ri Pak finished tied for 10th in the lower-tier KPGA Tour SBS Pro-Golf Championship in 2003.
Wie improved on her opening-round 70 with a nearly flawless round Friday, making four birdies and one bogey – on the 16th hole. Midway through the tournament, she was six strokes behind co-leaders Iain Steel of Malaysia (66) and Prom Meesawat of Thailand (64).
“My putting was good,” Wie said. “Yesterday was pretty good, but today was better. I was more confident today.”
Annika Sorenstam, the top women’s player in the world, became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she missed the cut at the Colonial in 2003, shooting rounds of 71 and 74. She has played in men’s Skins Games the last two years.
Wie’s parents were born in South Korea, and her visit has generated intense media coverage and large crowds.
“I’m really happy to make the cut in Korea, and I had such big galleries,” she said. “Plus I really love children and there were lots of young fans here today.”
Van Pelt takes lead after tying course record
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The fun started early again for Bo Van Pelt, with birdies on the first two holes for the second straight day. This time, he kept it going. Van Pelt broke the 36-hole record in the Wachovia Championship, tying the Quail Hollow course mark in the process with an 8-under 64 Friday. He had a 10-under 134 total for a three-shot lead over former U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk, with Davis Love III another stroke back. Play was suspended for about 90 minutes during the afternoon due to thundershowers, then called off for good about 30 minutes after it resumed when more bad weather moved through. Seventy-four players will have to come back Saturday morning to complete their rounds.
Payne takes over at Augusta National
ATLANTA – Augusta National announced Friday that Hootie Johnson is stepping down as chairman on May 21, moving into an emeritus role.
Billy Payne will become the sixth chairman in the club’s 73-year history and run one of golf’s most hallowed events – the first of the four majors, played every April amid blazing azaleas and towering pine trees.
“I know I leave the championship in very capable hands,” the 75-year-old Johnson said.