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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:29 a.m., Friday, May 26, 2006

Wie's U.S. Open qualifying threesome announced

By Tom Canavan
Associated Press

Rick Hartmann will go from anonymous club pro to sweating in the national spotlight when he tees it up against Honolulu's Michelle Wie.

The 47-year-old Hartmann will be in a threesome with the teenager aiming to make history in the U.S. Open qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J.

The 16-year-old Wie will attempt to become the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Open June 5.

The USGA selected Hartmann and David Gossett to be paired with the Punahou School junior in what is sure to be the most watched threesome.

"I guess they thought we were nice guys," said Hartmann, the club pro at The Atlantic Golf Club in the ritzy Hamptons section of Eastern Long Island.

USGA executive director David Fay chose Hartmann and Gossett for the Wie pairing, according to Marty Parkes, the USGA's senior director of communications. They were selected because of their experience playing in big events in front of large crowds.

"We didn't want someone who would not be able to deal with the situation," Parkes said.

Hartmann, the Bridgehampton club pro for 11 years, won the Met Open and the New York State Open. Although never nationally prominent, his biggest day on stage was playing in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

"There were 5,000 people on every hole," he said.

Gossett won the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1999, shot 59 at Q-school a year later and won the John Deere Classic in 2001, the first player since Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tour event on a sponsor's exemption. Now, he doesn't even have status on the Nationwide Tour.

For the good-natured Hartmann, the past 24 hours at his club have given him a taste of what's to come. After the pairings were announced, club manager Jim Matthers gave Hartmann a dress to wear in case Wie outdrove him.

"I'm not going to wear it," Hartmann said, adding that he is "fairly longish" off the tee.