Posted at 4:58 p.m., Saturday, July 1, 2006
Wie 2 behind leaders; Kim makes cut
By Doug Ferguson
She played solidly for an even-par 71 in the morning to keep a share of the lead, then spent Saturday afternoon resting in her palatial quarters as Pat Hurst, Hawai'i's Michelle Wie and the rest of her challengers battled the blustery conditions at Newport Country Club, knowing they would have a short night before the marathon finish.
"I'm sure she's home just getting out of the covers from a nice, two-hour nap," Juli Inkster said after scrapping around Newport for more than five hours in the sun for a 1-under 70.
They'll need plenty of rest for the 36-hole Sunday, the first in 16 years at the U.S. Women's Open.
Sorenstam was in the best shape of all physically, for sure by finishing her round about 1 p.m. at 2-under 140. Hurst had consecutive bogeys in the middle of her round, then steadied herself with a birdie on the par-5 16th for a 71 to tie for the lead.
One shot behind was a group that included Wie and her wild day.
Tied for the lead, Wie took two shots to get out of a muddy bunker and made double-bogey on the 17th hole. In danger of falling farther behind, the 16-year-old escaped with an amazing par on No. 7 by taking an unplayable lie from the shrubs, blasting an 8-iron out of the muck and over a ravine to within 10 feet, and making the putt.
"It was all in all a very good hole," she said. "Right after it went in the hole, I laughed at myself. It was pretty ridiculous."
Wie wound up with a hard-earned 72 and was at even-par 142, along with 19-year-old amateur Jane Park (73) and Shi Hyun Ahn (71). Inkster, a two-time Women's Open champion, was another shot back at 143 in a group that included five-time major champion Se Ri Pak (74) and 19-year-old Paula Creamer (72).
Former Hawai'i resident Kimberly Kim, 14, shot a 71 and was 6-over overall. She went as low as 4-under for the round earlier Saturday. The cut was 8-over 150.
Two other Hawai'i amateurs Ayaka Kaneko and Stephanie Kono missed the cut.
Kono, a 16-year-old Punahou student, shot a 78 and finished at 18-over 160. Kaneko, a 16-year-old Sacred Hearts student, shot a 78 and finished at 16-over 158.
For Wie, all she could do to hang on in the second round.
Her confidence was high after saving par with an 8-foot putt on the 10th hole, making a 15-foot birdie on the 12th, and bouncing back from a bogey on the 15th by nearly reaching the 549-yard 16th in two shots.
Then came a 6-iron that leaked into a bunker, settling in a large puddle from so much rain earlier in the week. After dropping in mud-caked sand, she tried to get it close to the hole and didn't get out of the sand, fortunate to escape after that with double bogey.
Nothing quite topped the par at No. 7.
First came a fairway metal that hooked so badly, Wie hit a provisional in case it was lost. She found the original, and took a one-shot penalty for two club lengths of relief, although that was no bargain.
"I saw the area where I was going to drop it and said, 'Oh, great. I'm either going to be in the weeds or I'm going to be in a mud patch.' I tried to land it on a piece of grass."
She missed, and it sat in the muck of trampled weeds. Taking her right hand off the club at impact, she hammered an 8-iron from 140 yards and it came out perfectly, and the par putts might have been her most important shot.
Wie has been a factor on Sunday in the last five majors, and her putting stroke was far improved than three weeks ago at the LPGA Championship, when she took a dozen more putts than Se Ri Pak in finishing two shots out of the playoff.
Wie tees off at 2:09 a.m. Hawai'i time on Sunday.
Information from www.uswomensopen.com was used for this report.