Wie Qualifies to Play Men’s PubLinks

Michelle Wie seems to enjoy losing, but does losing beget losing?

Michelle WieMichelle Wie became the first woman to qualify for an adult male USGA championship two days ago after tying for first place in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur Public Links sectional qualifying tournament in Pennsylvania.

Wie, who finished second Sunday at an LPGA major, tied Artie Fink Jr. at +1 145 in Altoona, PA to qualify. Wie and Fink earned the only two spots available in the 85-player qualifier for the PubLinks, to be held July 11-16 at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, OH.

Why is Michelle Wie playing against the men again? The Masters. Specifically, the PubLinks champion traditionally receives an invitation to compete in The Masters, and Augusta officials have said that if Michelle were to win the PubLinks, she’d be warmly welcomed to Augusta National next April.

On Location at the 2005 U.S. Open – Wednesday Practice Round

Dave Koster checks in from Pinehurst and the Wednesday practice round at the 2005 U.S. Open.

This report comes to us from Pinehurst #2 courtesty of Dave Koster, scratch golfer, North Carolina resident, and friend of The Sand Trap.

Pinehurst is a special place. There is no doubt about it. I have been there only one other time. I played #5 and got to enjoy watching a good friend of mine play a game of croquet at their famous courts. That was during a cold day in December a couple years back. My second trip was different.

Fast forward to June 2005. The word of the day: Hot. Well, maybe there are two words of the day. The first is ‘Hot’ and the second should be ‘Water’. One was in high demand and the other was not. I think that you can guess which one is which. That’s enough about the weather and reminiscing about times past. On to the good stuff.

U.S. Open Preview

The previous U.S. Open held at Pinehurst No. 2 featured a memorable duel between Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson. Oh, and some guy named Tiger finished third. The stage is set for more drama this week.

USGA LogoPinehurst No. 2 is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest layouts. Yet the 2005 U.S. Open is only the third major championship to be held on the course. The most recent was the stuff of legend, as the late Payne Stewart won a duel with Phil Mickelson just months before Stewart’s untimely death. Will this year’s U.S. Open match 1999’s drama?

Who can forget the 1999 U.S. Open? You had the built-in drama of a major championship finally coming to North Carolina’s Pinehurst No. 2, one of Donald Ross’ sublime masterpieces. You had Tiger Woods rounding into his “Tiger Slam” form and finishing third, his game ready to explode into the stratosphere. You had Phil Mickelson, looking for his first major championship while listening for his beeper to see if his wife had gone into labor with their first child – who would be born the day following the tournament.

Wegman’s Rochester LPGA Tournament Preview

Defending champion Kim Saiki defends her only win on the LPGA tour this week at Wegman’s Rochester LPGA Tournament.

LPGASome professional golfers compete throughout their entire careers without ever winning a tournament. That wasn’t the case for thirty-eight-year old Kim Saiki who was crowned champion of the 2004 Wegman’s Rochester LPGA Tournament for the first time in her professional career.

Saiki sets out to defend her first championship win his week against the hottest LPGA superstars, previous winners of this event and ladies who have been victorious this season, all of whom will be challenging Kim for a $225,000 share of the total $1.5 million purse.

At the beginning of the 2004 Wegman’s, a relative unknown Saiki placed 77th on the money list. With veteran Rosie Jones and Saiki battling for the lead in the final round, Saiki drained a seven-foot birdie at the second most difficult hole of the week for the eventual win while Jones collapsed with a double-bogey. The first-timers’ standings on the ADT Official Money List skyrocketed to 14th place after a winless streak of 272 events.

Pinehurst Predictions

Find out who will contend and who will pretend this week at the U.S. Open.

Thrash TalkThrash Talk is back after a few weeks off, and it’s right in time for U.S. Open week! The Masters is a great tournament, quite possibly the best. If I was a professional golfer, however, the U.S. Open would be the tournament I would want to win the most. I am an American, and the U.S. Open is my national championship. The top players in the world are at Pinehurst #2 preparing for Thursday’s opening round, and the favorites this year are very clear-cut, but I’m going to make a few bold predictions this week.

Got the Backorder Blues?

Many golf shop customers are discovering that plenty of hot products are currently on backorder, and new custom orders are taking a month or more to arrive. Why the wait?

Bag DropWelcome to The Bag Drop, a new weekly rundown on what’s going on the world of golf equipment. If you’re a gearhead who lives to find out the latest about what’s going on in the golf business and what new products and trends are around the bend, read on – and be sure to come back next week for another round.

This week, we’ll start started on a sour note: Why are so many players having to wait to get new gear because the clubs they want are on backorder?

Tour Jackass of the Week: Rory Sabbatini

Ben Crane may play slowly, but that in no way excuses what Rory Sabbatini did to him over the final two holes of the 2005 Booz Allen Classic.

Rory SabbatiniRory Sabbatini plays quickly. Ben Crane, a Tour winner, has a reputation for playing rather slowly. Like oil and water, the two often don’t mix, and when the group is put on the clock, a fast player quickly comes to resent the slow player.

Tour officials put the Sabbatini/Crane group on the clock Sunday at the Booz Allen Classic, but both players had caught up by the 17th hole and were off the clock. When Sabbatini hit his approach into the water, he walked behind the green and prepared to make his drop before Ben Crane could hit his approach shot. Sabbatini was nearly directly behind the flag, standing there, waiting for Crane to hit his shot. As soon as Crane’s ball stopped moving, Sabbatini dropped, played his chip, walked onto the green, marked his ball, and then put his ball down and putted out. He then walked to the 18th tee before Crane finished out. He was booed, and booed again as he approached the 18th green (where Crane birdied from 50 feet away and Sabbatini managed to two-putt).

Volume Thirteen

There’s a new format for Hittin’ the Links – 9 holes, 9 links. This week, we talk about Payne Stewart, Rory Sabbatini, Olin Browne, consecutive aces and my poor writing.

It’s time for the US Open. Are you ready? I sure am. I love this tournament. It’s fun to watch the pros struggle to shoot par. I can relate to their frustrations.

Who’s everyone picking to win it? My pick is Phil Mickelson. As much as I hate him, I think he’s going to come out and go low on Thursday and set the tone. We’ll see. I’ve never actually picked a winner of a tournament before.

Leave your picks in the comments. Now, on to the links.

Sergio Drinks up Victory at the Booz Allen

For the second straight year, Sergio Garcia has won the PGA Tour event immediately before the U.S. Open.

Sergio GarciaWeeks after his record-setting final-round collapse at the Wachovia Championships, Sergio Garcia pulled off a nifty 65 to surge to victory at the Booz Allen Classic. It marks the second year in a row the young Spaniard has won the event prior to the U.S. Open. “I guess they should move the U.S. Open one week earlier,” said Garcia. “It is the tougher courses I feel good playing.” No player has ever won the U.S. Open after winning the week before.

Garcia’s victory was not without some slip-ups. He missed the green on the last hole, the famous par-3 finisher at Congressional, and nearly chipped across the green. Adam Scott, playing in the group behind him, had unfortunately caught a flyer into the water right and long on 17, but was only two behind until he got wet. Sergio’s collapse at Wachovia fresh in his mind, he two-putted for bogey, all but assuring the victory.