SILVIS, Ill. – One ill-timed three-putt. A stray tee shot. Just like that, Michelle Wie (search) went from historic to just plain history.
On the brink of becoming the first woman in 60 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour (search), the 15-year-old was out after finding big trouble on two of her last four holes at the John Deere Classic. Her even-par 71 Friday left her at 1 under for the tournament, missing the cut by two strokes.
When she tapped in, she smiled at the crowd, but disappointment was etched across her face.
"Those two holes really killed me," she said. "I finished under par, so I guess that counts for something."
Wie was trying to become the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias (search) in 1945 to make a PGA Tour cut, and she was on track to do it with room to spare after making the turn at 4 under. But she came apart in stunning fashion, dropping three strokes on Nos. 6 and 7, and then missing a last-chance birdie putt on No. 8.
"She missed two shots," tournament director Clair Peterson said. "That's golf. It's risk-reward. She put herself out there and good for her. As Todd Hamilton said the other day, she's going to make a cut on the PGA Tour. If it wasn't today, someday."
It looked as if it was going to be Friday, until her last four holes.
Wie put her tee shot on No. 6 into a bunker on the left side, and it left her with a tough shot, with the ball below her feet. She didn't do much better on the second shot, going into a greenside bunker on the right side.
She still had a chance for par, getting within 20 feet of the cup. But her first putt ran alongside the left edge and refused to drop, rolling about 5 feet by. She missed that one by inches, too, and had to take a double bogey, her first of the week.
She had a chance to get the stroke back on the next hole, the par-3 No. 7. Instead, her tee shot went right, bounced on the cart path and landed just at the edge. With no shot, Wie had to take a drop, leaving her 34 yards away in some deep grass.
The teenager from Hawaii had a 24-foot putt for par, but it rolled past the cup, leaving her with another bogey that put her at 1 under for the tournament.
Wie had one last chance, but her 14-foot birdie putt on No. 8 skirted the right edge of the cup. The crowd groaned as the ball refused to drop, and Wie sank to her knees. When she stood up, she looked skyward.
After making par on her last hole, Wie finished tied for 88th place.
No woman had made a PGA Tour cut since Zaharias at the 1945 Tucson Open, and it was another 58 years before another woman even tried. Annika Sorenstam teed it up at the 2003 Colonial, and Suzy Whaley played the Greater Hartford Open later that year. Neither made the cut.
Wie had played two other PGA Tour events, missing the cut at the 2004 Sony Open by a stroke. She fell short by seven strokes this year.
A 1-under 70 in the first round put her a stroke over the projected cut, and Wie came out Friday looking determined to make up ground. Wearing a turquoise shirt and a matching belt with a sparkly black "68" on the buckle, Wie made birdies on two of her first three holes, including a spectacular chip shot on the par-3 No. 12.
Her tee shot sailed off to the left, and it bounced once before smacking spectator Gene Lebo on the right leg above the knee. The ball dropped into the first row of the gallery about 40 feet from the green, but it would have been a lot farther had Lebo's leg not gotten in the way.
"It wasn't getting past me," joked Lebo, who was wearing, appropriately enough, a Hawaiian shirt. "Not for Michelle. I played linebacker so I know how to keep the ball in the field."
Wie still had a tough shot, with her ball in deep grass. But she chipped on, and the ball rolled oh, so slowly toward the hole. As fans shouted, "Get in the hole!" the ball dropped in, and Wie thrust both of her arms triumphantly in the air before slapping hands with her caddie.
She picked up another stroke on the par-4 14th, rolling in a 13-foot putt from the fringe on the back side of the green. That put her at 4 under for the tournament, safely under the cut line.
Though she gave the stroke back on 16, she recovered nicely on 18. From 161 yards, she put her ball within 6 inches of the cup. When the fans around the green roared, a wide grin crossed Wie's face and it stayed there as she walked up the fairway.
She was greeted with a standing ovation by the 10,000 fans around the green, and she acknowledged them with a couple of little waves. After tapping in for a birdie to get back to 4 under, a male fan yelled out, "I love you Michelle!" Wie turned and looked, laughing as she scanned the crowd.
Bu she wasn't laughing a few hours later, disappointed again.