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Wie hoping APL is springboard to Masters

Associated Press

LEBANON, Ohio – Having come up short in her latest bid against PGA Tour pros, Michelle Wie will now face many of the best amateur players in the country.

Wie is seeking a berth in the Masters, which she could earn by winning this week’s U.S. Men’s Amateur Public Links tournament at Shaker Run Golf Club. The 15-year-old Hawaiian earned her spot through qualifying into a field that includes 153 men – and her.

“I feel really good about the Public Links,” Wie said Friday after shooting an even-par 71 to miss the cut by two strokes at the John Deere Classic. “I’ve done really well and hopefully I can carry on into the APL. After seeing that I shot under par here, it feels that I can really compete there. And if I can get to match play, it’s a toss-up.”

Other players are already feeling a little extra pressure with Wie in the field.

“I’ve had people already, just from my home course, saying, ‘You’d better beat her,’ ” Scott Aker said.

Wie and the rest of the APL field will compete in 18 holes of medal play on Monday and again on Tuesday with the 64 lowest scorers advancing to match play. The championship will be decided by a 36-hole match on Saturday.

Two-time defending champ Ryan Moore is ineligible after turning pro, but Dayton Rose of Oklahoma State – who lost in the finals both years to Moore – is back. Among the other top contenders will be first-team All-Americans Ryan Blaum of Duke and Oklahoma’s Anthony Kim, along with second-teamer Chan Song (Georgia Tech), the brother of twins Aree and Naree Song on the LPGA Tour.

All eyes will be on Wie, however. The sponsoring U.S. Golf Association will put gallery ropes up around all tees and greens to give Wie some room as she plays.

Wie makes any tournament she enters an event. The USGA’s Web site got more than 50 million page views during the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago when Wie shared the lead heading into the final round.

“Every one of our events she has played in over the last year, the numbers went up dramatically in hits on our Web site,” the USGA’s David Shefter said.

Wie is the first female to ever qualify for an adult men’s USGA championship, posting a 36-hole score of 145 during qualifying at Cedarbrook Golf Course outside Pittsburgh on June 14 to reserve a spot in the APL field. Wie won the 2003 Women’s APL when she was 13, becoming the youngest winner ever of an adult USGA championship.

Despite missing the cut at the John Deere, she was happy with the way she played.

“My game is a lot more consistent,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the little control room pressing the buttons now. It feels good.”

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