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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Maruyama leads Sony

Shigeki Maruyama rallies with a big round 8-under on Friday to head the leaderboard of the Sony Open in Honolulu. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

It’s back to school for Michelle Wie.

The 15-year-old sophomore never had a chance to make the cut Friday in the Sony Open in Honolulu, taking three putts from 8 feet for a triple bogey on her sixth hole and losing more ground from there. She shot a 4-over 74 to finish 17 shots behind Shigeki Maruyama, and seven shots below the cut line.

Most girls her age don’t mind having a weekend off. Wie had grandiose plans.

She was trying to become the first female in 60 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour, and had high hopes after missing by one shot last year. If everything went perfect, she thought she could finish in the top 20.

Wie had to settle for a tie with European Ryder Cup player Paul Casey at 9-over 149. She wound up tied for 128th place, still better than 14 other men.

Maruyama made it look easy, jumping into contention by playing a three-hole stretch around the turn in 4 under par – a birdie on the eighth, holing a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 ninth, and making a 20-foot birdie on the 10th. He held it together the rest of the way and was at 8-under 132.

Justin Rose traded a rare birdie on the brutal opening hole by having to settle for par on the easy ninth, when he had a 7-iron for his second shot. Still, he had a 66 and was one shot behind.

Brett Quigley, who shot a 67, was also one stroke back.

Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman recovered from two bad drives that led to bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 for a 68 and joined Andrew Magee (68), Stewart Cink (69), Robert Gamez (66) and past Sony Open champions Jeff Sluman (68) and Paul Azinger (68) at 5-under 135.

Wie picked up her first birdie with an 8-foot putt on the 10th hole, but by then it was too late. There was no drama like last year, when she birdied two of her last three holes for a 68 to miss the cut by one shot.

Her lengthy stride gave way to slumped shoulders, and Wie stared at the turf after each shot missed the green.

The only consolation was her finish.

She hit a wedge into 10 feet and holed the putt for birdie, then walked off the 18th green with a rare smile.

ESPN, which stayed with her until the conclusion of her round last year, this time switched to an NBA game after Wie made her third bogey in four holes at the par-4 16th.

Wie goes back to the Punahou School, but not for long. She will return to professional ranks next month on the LPGA Tour for the SBS Open across the island at Turtle Bay, then play twice more on the LPGA before spring break.

As for next year?

Two-time defending champion Ernie Els believes Wie should return to the Sony Open.

“That is not throwing an invite away,” he said of the sponsor’s exemption Wie received. “It’s phenomenal what she is doing for the game.”