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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 15, 2005

Wie ousts two more in Publinx

 •  Chart: Wie's second round scorecards

By JOHN ERARDI
Cincinnati Enquirer

Michelle Wie\'s short game has drawn raves this week at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, where the Honolulu teenager won two more matches yesterday to reach the quarterfinal round.

Photos by David Kohl | Associated Press

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U.S. AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS

At Shaker Run Golf Club Lebanon, Ohio Yesterday\'s results i Michelle Wie, Honolulu, def. C.D. Hockersmith of Richmond, Ind., 6 and 5, in second round; Wie def. Jim Renner of Plainville, Mass., 3 and 1, in the round of 16. i Royden Heirakuji, Makawao, Maui, def. Rob Long, Clarksville, Tenn., 2 up; Garrett Jones, Rewey, Wis., def. Heirakuji, 3 and 2 in round of 16. Today\'s match Hawai\'i time Quarterfinals (Winner advances to afternoon semifinals) 1:50 a.m.—Wie vs. Clay Ogden, West Point, Utah. On the Web: www.usapl.org
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Michelle Wie receives congratulations from Jim Renner after ousting the Plainville, Mass. native, 3 and 1, in the round of 16.
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Michelle Wie overwhelmed C.D. Hockersmith in the second round, eliminating the Richmond, Ind., native, 6 and 5.

LEBANON, Ohio — After two match-play victories yesterday in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, Michelle Wie is only three victories away from Augusta, Ga., and a berth in next April's Masters Golf Tournament.

There are only eight players remaining from the 156 who began the tournament on Monday at Shaker Run Golf Club.

And one of them is a 15-year-old girl from Honolulu.

If you don't think there are some uptight elders at Augusta National who will have trouble holding on to their brandy snifters tomorrow if Wie wins her two matches here today, then you don't know much about the history of Augusta National.

"Obviously, I'm thinking about that, but right now I have to keep taking it one match at a time," Wie said.

After Monday and Tuesday's medal play and Wednesday's match play, Wie stayed at the course for two-plus hours each day to putt and chip on the practice green and hit balls at the range. After yesterday's 10-hour grind, though, she putted for about 10 minutes and then headed out with her parents to get something to eat and an early bedtime.

Asked if golf had become like a job to her, Wie smiled and answered: "Well, I'm not making any money so it can't be a job."

Meanwhile, it's back to work for Royden Heirakuji, of Makawao, Maui. After beating Rob Long, of Clarksville, Tenn., 2 up, in the morning, Heirakuji was eliminated by a 3-and-2 score in the round of 16 by Garrett Jones, of Rewey, Wis., one day shy of his 40th birthday.

If Wie wins her two matches today, she will have to win another marathon in the finals tomorrow that could go as many as 36 holes, and possibly more.

"Yes, it's a little exhausting, because match play can be pretty grueling, but (all) 36 holes is what you want," said Wie, alluding to the fact that if you're playing 36 holes, that means you are taking it down the wire, and down to the wire is where Wie believes she can beat anybody.

Yesterday morning, she mowed down Richmond, Ind., native C.D. Hockersmith, 6 and 5, by making birdies on three of the first four holes and winning the first five. In the afternoon, she beat Plainville, Mass., native Jim Renner, 3 and 1, with a birdie on No. 13 and a chip-in from 30 feet on No. 15 to stay two up.

"I don't know many 15-year-olds who could hit that shot she hit on No. 13," said Renner, shaking his head. "I don't know many guys out here who could hit that shot."

Wie, her ball in a divot and 220 yards from the hole, shaped that shot left-to-right to steer clear of a big tree on the right side of the green. She sent a low screamer with a 3-iron that rolled down a slope to the green and stopped pin-high 12 feet away. Her birdie put ended Renner's comeback from 3-down that had begun with his winning of holes No. 10 and No. 12.

That jaw-dropping shot on No. 13 had the weekend hackers in the gallery looking at one another as if to say, "Why do we even bother playing this game?"

No. 13 is 475 yards, normally a par 5, but converted into a par-4 for this tournament. Wie birdied it, but it looked more like an eagle to gallery mortals.

"It's not often you're intimidated by a 15-year-old, but I'm seeing stuff out here ...," Renner said.

It's the second straight day Wie has hit a shot like that. Wednesday, she won her first match-play round with a 6-iron from 180 yards to within 15 feet of a back-pin on No. 18 with water protecting its backside. She made the right-to-left downhiller to beat Will Claxton, 1-up.

How good was Wie's shot on No. 13 yesterday?

Even Wie, not one given to self-promotion, felt it was a good shot.

"It was an awesome shot for me," she said. "I was in a divot, 220 away and normally I hit my 3-iron about 210. I felt like I hit that really solid."

Like all players possessed of great confidence in the abilities, Wie saw no reason to think she couldn't make the 30-foot chip-in on No. 15.

"My caddie (Greg Johnston, on loan from LPGA pro Julie Inkster) and I both felt we were due for a chip-in," she said.

Everybody in this field knew coming in that Wie would be poised, confident and long off the tee. Those three things alone are enough to rattle many of the players here, good as they are but largely unaccustomed to the 1,000 person galleries Wie has been drawing.

But what's most impressive about Wie — and this is the most difficult thing to comprehend even after you've seen it — is that she has more game than anybody she's played so far. She has hit some shots under pressure that even the best Ryder Cup players would love to hit in match play.

All this could come to an end today, of course, beginning with her 7:50 a.m. (1:50 Hawai'i time) match vs. 20-year-old Clay Ogden, of West Point, Vt., a quarterfinalist last year, or in the afternoon vs. the winner of the Garrett Jones-Brad Marek match. The man to beat, though, is Anthony Kim, an All-American from Oklahoma who won his two matches yesterday by scores of 4 and 3 in the morning, and 5 and 4 in the afternoon. He is in the other bracket, meaning Wie wouldn't face him until tomorrow if both advance.

But nobody is going to get more gallery support than Wie.

"It's awesome to have people pulling for me like this," she said. "It's very encouraging."

Wie is an old hand at the media thing by now. She's a little drab at times, but the innocence of youth shines through on occasion. Yesterday, in assessing a two-match day in humid conditions, she inadvertently substituted a word for "grueling."

"It was really gruesome out there," Wie said.

Only for her opponents.

Newsday contributed to this report.