Michelle Wie failed in her bid to become the first woman to play in the U.S. Open, teasing a frenzied gallery for 27 holes until three straight bogeys Monday afternoon sent her to a 3-over 75 and into the middle of the pack.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed I didn't make it," she said. "I'm satisfied with the way I tried. I played my hardest out there."
Her next stop is a major — against the women.
Wie opened with a 68 on the easier South course and still had a chance to get one of 18 spots available to the 153-player field at Canoe Brook when headed to the back nine. Needing at least one birdie to have a chance, her inability to master the greens finally caught up with her. And the cheers from 3,500 fans that carried her throughout the day turned to sympathetic applause at the end.
She finished at 1-over 143, a score that might have been good enough to make the cut if this were a tournament.
But she was trying to make history, not a cut. And ultimately, she didn't come close.
"I'm very proud of her," said her father, B.J. Wie. "A little disappointed, but very proud. I think Michelle demonstrated that it's possible for a woman to play in a men's major."
For now, the 16-year-old from Hawaii will have to stick to the other majors. She now goes to Bulle Rock north of Baltimore to play in the LPGA Championship, where she was runner-up last year and will be among the favorites.
Those lucky enough to watch saw quite a show.
Interest was so high that Canoe Brook officials had to close the gate shortly before lunch because they didn't feel they could accommodate such a large crowd — an estimated 5,000 on the grounds, including nearly 300 from the media, most of them following a 6-foot teenager with big dreams.
And they had reason to believe they were watching something special.
Wie finished her morning round by chipping in for birdie from 60 feet for a 2-under 68, matching her best score competing against men and the first time she did so without a bogey. Even after her first nine holes on the tougher, longer North course, she remained 2 under and had a legitimate shot at joining Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson & Co. at storied Winged Foot.
But it all came undone by the club that doomed her chances from the start — her putter.
After hitting a fan in the leg with her tee shot on the fourth, she was 25 feet away for birdie and ran the putt 3 feet by. Wie missed the par putt for only her second bogey of the day. But she three-putted the next hole for bogey, too, a slippery 25-foot putt that she ran a few feet by and missed.
Then on the 442-yard sixth hole, she again missed the fairway, chipped across into more rough and when she finally reached the green, had to two-putt from 30 feet just to escape with bogey.
That ended her hopes, and a crowd that had been so electric under mostly gray skies turned somber as the sun broke through the clouds, casting long shadows across the fairway.
Mark Brooks wondered if it was just as well. Winged Foot is one of the most daunting U.S. Open courses, with severe greens, thick rough and deep bunkers.
"I don't think it would be a good experience unless you've really been whipped by a golf course," he said. "I don't think Tiger Woods was ready for a U.S. Open when he was 16."
Brett Quigley set the course record on the South with a 7-under 63 and was the medalist at 11-under 131. As Wie spoke with reporters, five players who finished at 4-under 138 were in a sudden-death playoff for the 18th and final spot.
"Somebody asked me if I was worried she was going to beat me," he said. "I said, 'I don't care if she beats me as long as I get in."'
Wie has played eight tournaments against the men, making the cut for the first time last month at the SK Telecom Open in South Korea on the Asian Tour. This required a little more.
She tied for 58th, but wound up five strokes short, most of the shots given away on birdie putts inside 12 feet that she missed throughout the day, especially in the morning.
"The greens are difficult for her. So many subtle breaks," her father said.
But she kept bogeys off her card, the first time she has ever done that against the men. And her outlook changed dramatically on her final hole of the morning round. After a drive into the right rough that came within 15 feet of going into the water, she hit her approach to the grassy knoll atop a bunker.
Her chip was strong and smacked into the pin before dropping for an unlikely birdie. Wie raised her arms in surprise, and the cheers were so loud they drowned out her parents. Wie sat at the scoring table off the 18th green, surrounded by a dozen cameras who watched her go through the simple task of checking her scores and signing her card.
Wiemania, indeed, reached another level.
Sectional qualifiers typically draw a few hundred people, most of those family or friends. The crowd tagging along after Wie was about the same size as the one watching Mickelson play in the Memorial on Sunday.
And it caused a few problems, as expected.
As she made her way to the 10th tee on the North course to start her second round, hundreds of people followed behind her and caused players on the 12th green to back off their shots, one caddie raising his arms in disgust.
Quigley was on an adjacent hole when Wie made birdie on the 17th in the afternoon.
"I was getting ready to tee off and I heard people going wild through the woods," Quigley said. "I figured she'd made a birdie. It was great to see people so energized."
Vaughn Taylor, who was in the five-man playoff, played on the same courses and was amazed at the gallery. The problem was with fans, who cared only about Wie and at times walked across fairways as other players were getting ready to hit.
"I backed off more shots today and I ever have," Taylor said.
But this wasn't a typical U.S. Open qualifier.
Wie has been charting her own path since she qualified for an LPGA Tour event at age 12. She became the youngest winner of a USGA championship for grown-ups in 2003 when at 13 she won the U.S. Amateur Public Links. And in the two LPGA Tour events she has played this year between time off from her junior year at Punahou School in Honolulu, she has finished one shot out of a playoff.
She couldn't afford any mistakes in her second round, and they came in bunches.
She left Canoe Brook as the sun set, promising to try again next year.
"Most definitely," she said. "I'm not going to quit after this. I don't see the point in that."