JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
Michelle Wie closed her eyes on the eighth hole yesterday at the John Deere Classic.
Bugs bum out Wie
Insects get to the Hawaii teen on the second tee -- and her day only gets worse on the way to a 77
SILVIS, Ill. » We've been down this road before with Michelle Wie.
No, not at the John Deere Classic, but at the Sony Open.
Today, Wie (8:44 a.m. Hawaii time start) needs to play the best she's ever played to make the cut at the JDC after yesterday's gallery-scattering 6-over 77 in a first round that could've been much worse.
It's not that the course was super difficult -- 92 of the 156 entrants broke par, including Dean Wilson of Kaneohe, who was tied for 13th at 4 under.
J.P. Hayes, Zach Johnson, John Senden and Daniel Chopra were tied for the lead at 7 under when play was suspended due to darkness with three golfers left to finish one hole.
Wie's day was reminiscent of the 79 she misfired in the first round at Waialae in January, disappointing her hometown fans as much as herself in her fourth try at making the cut in a PGA Tour event.
But one of her strengths is resilience, and Wie displayed it the next day, firing a 68 while taking dead aim at the pins. It wasn't enough to earn a Saturday tee time, but it allowed Wie to walk away with her pride restored.
Attempt No. 3 was here last year, and she would've made it after a first-round 1-under 70 if not for playing two holes at 3-over late on Friday.
After yesterday's stumble through the woods that included four penalty strokes, seven missed fairways and 12 missed greens, no one was talking about Wie playing on the weekend anymore.
Except for her.
"I feel like I have a really good round in me," she said, smiling afterward. "I feel really motivated to do it."
Wie was even able to joke about it.
"Well, I didn't make the cut shooting 1 under on the first round, so maybe shooting 6 over might do it," she said with a laugh.
It might take a 63 for her to climb into the top 70. There's no way she'll get there spraying her tee shots like she did yesterday.
Wie said a fog delay of 2 hours and 10 minutes didn't bother her. She dealt with worse just two weeks ago, at the U.S. Women's Open. There, the entire first round was postponed a day for the same reason.
"It was actually quite nice because I had to wake up really early this morning, and because of the fog, I went back home and I slept a little, so it was good," she said. "It wasn't like the U.S. Open, where I had to wait in the clubhouse."
At that point, nothing was bugging Wie. But that would change at her second hole of the day, the 432-yard par-4 No. 11.
Michelle Wie had few problems once she reached the greens yesterday, but getting there was often an adventure.
A crowd eight-deep at the No. 10 tee greeted her, and Wie saved par to start the round. Wie addressed her tee shot at 11, then she addressed the insect crawling on her, and backed off.
She repeated the process twice more, before whacking her shot into an unplayable lie under some trees to the right.
"I had like five of them on me," she said. "It's OK if the bugs are like around the ball, I can handle that. But they were crawling on my arm, they were on my hand, they were on my head. ... It was very unfortunate."
Wie was on the fringe at three and chipped to within 5 feet. But she missed that for a double bogey and the beginning of a downward spiral. Another bad tee shot followed on No. 12, leading to a bogey, the first of six for the round.
She hit trees, sometimes twice on the same shot. She hit into waist-high grass. She hit a spectator.
Neither a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 13, nor a spectacular chip of 45 feet for another birdie at No. 16 could turn the momentum.
They couldn't make up for six bogeys and the double.
How much of it can be blamed on the bugs?
"I would like to say it didn't, but it bothered me a little bit," Wie said. "Bugs on me, I hate bugs, and I was starting to get a little aggravated, but I felt like I shook it off. Obviously I didn't hit that tee shot the way I wanted to, but I don't think (the round) was because of the bugs."
Daisuke Maruyama's caddie gave her some repellent, but Wie has her own plan.
"I'm calling the exterminator tomorrow," she said.
She was joking, but it's still going to take a lot more than the Orkin Man to help her climb from 150th place to where she wants to be.
Kauai's Watabu survives at Publinx, advances to quarterfinals
BREMERTON, Wash. » Kauai's Casey Watabu won both of his matches yesterday to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Watabu defeated Jesse Schutte of Florence, Ore., 3 and 2 in the second round. He then scored a 3-and-2 win over Joseph Prince of Chula Vista, Calif., in the afternoon round set up a quarterfinals match with Daniel Im of Fullerton, Calif., this morning at Gold Mountain Golf Club.
Watabu and Im are scheduled to tee off at 5 a.m. Hawaii time. The morning winners advance to this afternoon's semifinal round. The 36-hole championship match is tomorrow.
Watabu, a Kauai graduate who recently completed his collegiate career at Nevada, is the last of six Hawaii entrants remaining in the tournament.
Watabu never trailed in his second-round match, taking the lead with a par on the first hole while Schutte, who eliminated defending champion Clay Ogden on Wednesday, bogeyed. He lost just two holes and ended the match with a birdie on No. 14 followed by pars on the next two holes.
In the third round, Watabu surrendered a 2 up lead on the front nine and trailed when Prince birdied the par-3 eighth hole. Watabu brought the match to all-square with a birdie on the ninth and took the lead for good on No. 11 when he pared and Prince bogeyed. He extended his lead with a birdie on the par-5 14th and closed the match with another par at No. 16.
In other matches, Georgia Tech's Kevin Larsen routed co-medalist Justin Metzger of Knoxville, Tenn., 6 and 5 in the second round and beat Derek Fathauer of Jensen Beach, Fla., 5 and 4 in the third round.
"I'm just keeping it in play," Larsen said. "I'm not really hitting it close. I'm just making a lot of pars and putting pretty well, so once in a while the putts fall in. I'm not making too many bogeys, which is good out on this course."
Larsen will face Matt Savage of Louisville, Ky., in the quarterfinals. In the other upper-bracket quarterfinal, Anthony Kim of Traverse City, Mich., will face Matt Harmon of Grand Rapids, Mich.
In the other lower-bracket quarterfinal, 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Sihwan Kim of Buena Park, Calif., will face Tim Feenstra of Lynden, Wash, with the winner meeting Watabu or Im in the semifinals.
From staff and wire reports