Editor's note: Brett Avery followed Michelle Wie during Sectional Qualifying at the Canoe Brook Country Club as she tried to become the first woman to qualify for the men's U.S. Open.
By Brett Avery
Hole 36, 417 yards
The end of a long day. Hartmann and Gossett hit into the left rough and cannot reach in two shots. Both pitch on after Wie goes froim fairway to green and in the neighborhood of 20 feet. Wie takes one last stab at birdie and once again curls the putt well below the hole. Gossett misses one more putt from a yard, Wie secures her par and waves to an appreciative crowd and Hartmann polishes off the last tap-in. Perhaps it wasn't the dream finish she wanted but Wie has beaten a good number of PGA TOUR professionals on this day. Time to her to get in the car and drive to the LPGA Championship.
1 over for 36 holes.
Hole 35, 528 yards par 5
Finally a fairway for Wie and her second into a sun low in the horizon checks up 4 yards short of the green. Wie hits a bump-and-run to about 10 feet past, Gossett flubs his third from the back right rough and Hartmann drains an eagle -- the ball dropping after wavering on the lip -- to give the gallery a reason to cheer. Gossett two putts and Wie hits perhaps her worst putt of a long day, missing by miles before holing her next.
1 over through 35.
Hole 34, 212 yards
Gossett and Hartmann hit the green and Wie hits it inside them, a case (probably) of too little, too late. The gallery has dwindled to a few hundred spectators who seem to be following the last holes as a courtesy. Shadows cover all but a sliver of the green as Gossett putts from 32 feet (to 1 foot) then Hartmann (inside a foot beyond) and finally Wie from about 20 feet (low and left edge).
1 over through 34.
Hole 33, 442 yards
A dejected gallery starts trying to figure out where the first green is located for the gate in the fence leading to the parking lot. Wie already has taken 27 putts and has missed another fairway -- she's hit only five this afternoon. From the left trees she tries to punch back to the fairway and scoots it through the fairway. Gossett puts it to 25 feet left asnd Hartmann, from the left rough, comes up short of the surface. Wie trudges up the hill to her ball and doesn't take much time sizing up her third, hitting it to the back left corner of the green. Hartmann pitches to a foot before Wie, now struggling to avoid another bogey, almost holes a sharp breaker to the right across a small hill. The ball skitters nearly 6 feet past. Gossett two putts for par, Wie slams home her bogey putt and Hartmann holes out.
1 over through 33.
Hole 32, 173 yards
Wie looks despondent on the tee, as shaken as when she pulled the bill of her cap down to cover her face after missing the par putt at the previous hole. Gossett hits first and stiffs it, the type of shot Wie would pay to have. Hartmann goes well left and Wie hits a pedestrian 32 feet. Hartmann flops off an ugly sidehill lie to 20 feet past. The gallery isn't expecting much from Wie on her putt and she again sees it break well below the hole to the same distance she missed at the last green. Hartmann bogeys and Gossett nearly holes a putt breaking sharply to the right. Wie seems to spend a split second too long over the ball and it spins off the lip, all but dooming her chances. She spins away from the ball in disgust, a moment that's a candidate for clip of the day, and the spectators let out a groan.
Even through 32.
Hole 31, 362 yards
Two in the fairway, Wie in the left rough with a 30-foot tree on the line of her approach. She easily enough lofts it over the highest branches but it flies too far, 30 feet or more and she's first to putt. It's one of her boldest putts of the day, running almost 3 feet long. It's just after 6 p.m. as Hartmann and Gossett miss their birdie tries before Wie makes the gallery gasp by missing her 3 footer to tumble back to 1 under for the day. A horrible time to 3 putt.
1 under through 31.
Hole 30, 390 yards
Wie splits the fairway and, as has been the case all day, her length is comparable to the men, even though she'll hit the first approach. The ball sails about a half club long and leaves a tricky putt of almost 40 feet. Hartmann hits to just inside 30 feet, Gossett to inches. The post-work crowd is coming out in force: postal uniforms, shirt and ties, moms and dads who have grabbed the kids to go out and watch a piece of history. Wie lags to about a foot and marks, Hartmann brushes the right lip, Wie cleans up.
2 under through 30.
Hole 29, 572 yards, par 5
The North Course's second hole is bounded on the left by a fence separating it from The Mall at Short Hills. About a dozen cars are double parked on the road with passengers (and about 30 other people) trying to catch a glimpse of Wie, who has found the right rough. Hitting first, she lays up before the creek crossing the fairway. Gossett, from the left rough, blows it over the creek and Hartmann, from the center cut, rips it onto the green to perhaps 20 feet. Wie's third will flirt with tree branches guarding the left side, but the ball doesn't draw or fly far enough and trickles off the false front. Gossett stuffs it to 8 feet. Wie pitches up and nearly cans it, contorting her torso as it slides past on the low side, then taps in. Hartmann barely misses but settles for par and Gossett grazes the high side. The opportunities are dwindling.
2 under through 29.
Hole 28, 399 yards
Nine to go and it is looking as if Wie must better par on this nine to have a chance. She frowns when her drive goes off line, down in the right rough. This grass isn't nearly as penalizing as what is growing at Winged Foot but it's enough to take most of the spin off the ball. Anticipating that, she throws it to the center of the green and lets the ball roll 18 feet past. Both men hit the green, Hartmann to 4 feet. Wie putts first, slightly uphill, but the ball breaks sharply left, three feet hole high. Gossett, along much the same line, feeds it into the heart. Hartmann misses badly for birdie yet makes it coming back and Wie secures par.
2 under through 28.
Hole 27, 605 yards par 5
The buzz is back in the gallery and speculation on the playoff number is rampant. All three find the fairway and lay up for their crucial thirds. Wie, center of the fairway, hits a one-hander that stops 40 feet short. Hartmann and Gossett both pace the yardage to the front. Gossett doesn't reach the fringe from the left rough, Hartmann to 30 feet below the hole. Gossett's fourth is a bump-and-run to 4 feet. Wie is also is 3 feet short. Hartmann's ball hops a few times and stops 2 feet away. The pace is slowing and it seems as if the players realize the importance of each stroke, taking longer and longer. Gossett misses left and then left again, electing to wait before holing out. Wie, having to follow Gossett's carnage, takes an extra moment over the ball before pouring it in. Gossett and Hartmann finish up.
2 under through 27.
|Michelle Wie in action during Monday's sectional qualifier. (Getty Images)|
It's after 4 p.m., an hour when even the fittest of players show some fatigue. All three are showing the strain of the day waiting to play and summon long drives to take advantage of the downhill tee shot. Wie again rips it down the center and when she reaches the first of two balls she stops, thinking it is hers. Oops, it belongs to Gossett, and the gallery delights in telling her she can walk another 20 yards. Hartmann hits the green from the left rough, Gossett hits a sprinkler head and goes over the green while Wie sticks it to 7 feet. Gossett, nearly 60 yards over the green in shin-high grass, almost makes it back to the rear of the green. His fourth runs well past. Hartmann chips inside him and they spend a few minutes holing out, Gossett suffering a double. Given her chance, Wie cans it for only her third birdie of the day, receiving a cathartic roar from the crowd. Back to 2 under and maybe back to the number that will play off for the last spots.
2 under through 26
Hole 25, 431 yards
There are pockets of blue sky and lots of puffy clouds but also some dark clouds on the horizon. Wie hits to the left first cut but loses her approach to the right and winds up a few feet short of the green. Hartmann come up 10 yards short of the green and chunks it, then skips his fourth to a so-so 10 feet. Wie has all of 64 feet with her putter and begins urging "go" as the ball leaves the clubhead, wincing as it screeches to a halt 10 feet short. Gossett drains his birdie, the grinding evident as he claws to remain in contention. Hartmann barely misses on the left and doubles, walking off slump-shouldered. Wie runs her putt into the hole, the best stroke inside 12 feet she's made today.
1 under through 25.
Hole 24, 382 yards
Another drive, another fairway, although from the left side of the fairway it isn't the best angle at a hole cut just beyond the left-side bunker. Gossett is deep in the right rough with tree trouble and hits a rope hook that barely runs through the green. Wie plays the terrain, throwing a high approach beyond the hole that backs up to 10 feet. Hartmann hits a pedestrian approach to 30 feet. Gossett lips out his pitch and taps in. As Hartmann lines up his putt the gallery draws closer anticipating Wie's try, sensing she must hole it to get back into contention. Hartmann's putt stops 2 feet short. Wie's putt breaks off left and grazes the hole, the white paint inside the cup reflecting on the bottom of the ball as it slides past.
1 under through 24
Hole 23, 226 yards
A short wait on the tee again for the group ahead to hole out. No one hits the green. Gossett is out of the right bunker top 15 feet long. Hartmann from two paces short of the surface hits a bump-and-run to a few feet. Wie's ball plugs just in front of the green so she gets a free drop. Using putter she lags it to a foot. Gossett studies his putt at length, backs off once and then cozies it into the hole. Hartmann saves par and Wie does too.
1 under through 23.
Hole 22, 391 yards
Hartmann hits the fairway and Gossett the left rough before Wie bombs it down the center. Hitting first, Wie sets up over the ball then backs off, then hits an indifferent approach from about 130 yards to the front of the green. Gossett is inside her from the rough and Hartmann from 15 yards close in the center of the fairway, bangs a wedge to the back of the green the draws down to 7 feet. Wie putts first and the ball breaks 2 feet left, leaving an easy par. Gossett drains his as does Hartmann.
1 under through 22 holes.
Hole No. 21, 538 yards par 5
The group in front was hitting their drives at this hole as Wie and Co. Were walking to the 20th green. That translated to the day's first lengthy wait at the reachable par 5, which the players passed chatting. Wie eventually hits first and finds the first cut on the right. The premium is on accuracy to the green here as two pine trees guard the front left, leaving Wie to lay up. Gossett's second goes into the front but Hartmann boldly goes for the green and nails it inside 7 feet. With the day's first appreciable wind blowing from the left, Wie winds up 11 feet above the hole. Gossett again nearly holes out from the sands before Wie rams her birdie try nearly 5 feet past. Electing to continue, she drains the uphill save and breaks into a relieved smile for the 40-plus still and video photographers around the green. Gossett connects for birdie, Hartmann misses right and takes his 4.
1 under through 21 holes.
Hole No. 20, 173 yards
Spectators are now standing 4 and 5 deep around every tree and green. Wie is closest to the hole as Hartmann goes hole high left and Gossett lands in the first third of the green. Hartmann nearly cans his pitch and Gossett's 29 footer, across a small knob, runs 4 feet too far. Wie has a downhill 16 footer she tries to will into the hole but it remains well right. It's another example of the starkest difference between Wie and the men in this field: she has sufficient length and accuracy but the putter remains her downfall. Hartmann and Gossett both bogey, making for a forgettable hole.
1 under through 20 holes.
Hole No. 19, 374 yards
Wie goes to the afternoon round, from the 10th tee of the North Course, on the cusp of qualifying with 13 players at 68 or better in the a.m. Fifteen minutes before her starting time the gallery begins stringing out along the fairway, anticipating her arrival. With only the tees and a few greens guarded by ropes the gallery has an exceptional chance to get close enough to peer into her bag as she pulls a club and listen to her formulate shots with her caddie.
Unlike the morning, the second round begins on time. Wie hits into the fairway bunker but the ball jumps toward the left side, leaving an awkward stance that's hardly the way one wants to begin a round. Gossett and Hartmann land in rough, Gossett from the right first cut and Hartmann from the left rough. Wie burns a shot, flopping out, and has about 100 yards to the hole. Her third is to the center of the green about 32 feet. Gossett has his own odd stance in the back bunker and leaves it in the sand, then his fourth runs 7 feet past. Hartmann's 18-footer wiggles just left and he taps in. Wie's par try stays on the high side and she quickly surrenders a bogey. Gossett drains his putt
1 under through 19 holes
Hole No. 18, 417 yards
The gallery clearly senses the impending luncheon break and for the first time in the round dozens of spectators dash across in front of the tee from right to left -- the tunnel under Route 24 back to the clubhouse is over there. The brightly overcast skies now show some low, dark clouds to the southeast. Any rain would change the green speeds and make for a longer afternoon. Wie is the only one missing the fairway, flirting with a pond one large hop to the right. Her second barely clears the bunker on the left front of the green, leaving an awkward stance. Unbelievably she cans the pitch to get to 2 under, bringing a huge cheer from the gallery. Despite the second birdie, the morning round goes down as a wasted opportunity. Missing 7 putts inside 12 is not the prescription for winning a spot a Winged Foot against players of this talent level. It will certainly take a round in the 60s on the more difficult North Course to challenge for an Open berth.
Time for lunch. Wie's second round is scheduled for 2:20 p.m.
2 under through 18 holes
Hole No. 17, 199 yards
Wie takes her turn hitting over the flagstick, to 24 feet, while Gossett hits inside 10 feet. Hartmann blasts out strongly and watches the ball bounce off the right edge of the hole. Wie makes a game effort but walks off her 14th green in regulation still seeking her second birdie. Gossett makes his two and Hartmann skims the edge with his putt for par.
1 under through 17 holes.
Hole No. 16, 428 yards
Wie lands in the right side of the fairway, hitting second after Gossett goes from right rough to missing the green on the left. Wie hits to the left half of the green with the hole on the right side, followed by Hartmann's shot from the left trees to the center of the green. Gossett's third, from a downhill lie in a bunker, nearly rolls into the hole for 3, which is a score Wie desperately needs -- the murmurs in the crowd have 30 players or more already at 1 under or better with the afternoon round well under way. Instead she strokes another indifferent birdie putt, ending nearly 3 feet low and right. Hartmann makes birdie and Wie cleans up her par.
1 under through 16 holes.
Hole No. 15, 465 yards
A gradual uphill climb made even longer by the steady weekend rains finds Wie narrowly missing the fairway on the right. For the first time all day the group waits on the three players ahead. Wie from the first cut rips a wood to the front of the green, drawing one of the biggest cheers of the morning. Hartmann goes long left from the fairway and Gossett lashes out of the right rough, a few strides ahead of Wie, to the front of the green. Hartmann tries a delicate little lob but comes up well short, Gossett from 38 feet runs it 4 feet past. Wie has 35 feet and makes a decent run at it, although the ball curls left and low and leaves her 2 feet. Hartmann misses for 4, Gossett does the same (drawing another groan from the gallery) and Wie remarkably makes the only par.
1 under through 15 holes.
Hole No. 14, 198 yards
While Wie is not showing much consternation her father, B.J., is becoming more agonized with every missed putt. The gallery, which has grown to around 700 with the addition of some stragglers, is sensing all these missed putts could be costly. This time she comes up remarkably short (4 feet) on a birdie attempt from 30-plus feet below the hole. Gossett two-putts for par and Hartmann saves par from the right rough before Wie drains her 3 footer.
1 under through 14 holes.
Hole No. 13, 405 yards
There's a good amount of chatter in the group and the relaxed atmosphere remains as the round draws to its latter stages. Wie returns to splitting fairways and has about 140 to the center of the green, where the hole is tucked behind the left-hands bunker. Once again she stuffs it to close on the short side. Hartmann muscles his ball out of the right rough and Gossett is over the stick again to 15 feet. Hartmann, standing in the sand for his third, chops a little pitch to a few feet. Gossett goes well high of the hole with his first putt and makes par. Wie has it straight up the slope but it turns right in the last few turns and she taps in for par, as does Hartmann.
1 under through 13 holes.
Hole No. 12, 391 yards
Wie scatters the gallery and the ball nestles into the rough about two paces off the first cut. Hartmann strays well right into a stand of mature trees and Gossett is the only one in the fairway. Wie’s second checks up 2 yards short of the putting surface while Gossett goes over the flasgstick to 10 feet. Hartmann threads his recovery through a gap in the branches and stops within a few feet of Gossett's ball.
With few exceptions players nearby stop play to watch the parade pass. Most other players realize they're better off holing up for a minute or two than trying to play as the gallery passes.
Wie putts from the fringe to tap in range, Hartmann and Gossett waste their chances, Gossett by lipping out from the left side.
1 under through 12.
Hole No. 11, 546 yards par 5
Wie's drive splashes through the right fairway bunker and finishes in rough with an uphill lie. She hits a short iron second to the right side of the fairway to prepare for her third. It is only the second fairway she misses, after No. 1. She hits a low punch into the top tier that checks twice and stops 11 feet right hole high. Gossett nearly holes out for eagle -- go figure -- and taps in for birdie. Hartmann blasts out of the right greenside bunker but misses a 15 footer. Wie once again rolls a weak birdie try and taps in for par. Some of these makable putts need to drop to have a chance.
1 under through 11 holes
Hole No. 10, 162 yards
Wie hits another green while the other two stumble. Gossett hits a nifty escape from a bunker trickles to 4 feet while Hartmann's hitch from the back rough stays within a stride of the hole. Wie is 15 feet below the hole but the birdie effort once again goes left edge and stays out. Gossett lips out after backing off once and Hartmann makes par before Gossett rams his bogey try 3 feet past then horseshoe lips out from the left for 6. After a 3 at the last hole. Cruel.
1 under through 10 holes.
Hole No. 9, 372 yards
Wie finds the center of the green with her second. Gossett's drive drifts right on the dogleg in that direction and has to manufacture a recovery around a large tree to get within 10 feet. Hartmann hits in regulation too. Wie's birdie attempt never gets on line and she taps in from 18 inches for par. Hartmann is well short while Gossett completes his remarkable save for birdie. Hartmann cleans up his par.
A scoreboard nearby shows David McKenzie of Hixson Tenn. played the same nine in 31, one of nearly a dozen scores below 35 on the south's front nine.
1 under through nine holes.
Hole No. 8 573 yards, par 5
Wie drives down the right side of the fairway but hits her layup into the right rough, leaving a tricky third over the pond guarding the green. Gossett, not to be outdone, hits into the spot about 130 yards from the hole. Hartmann’s second shot stays in the left fairway. Hartmann is first to play a third shot and knocks it to 5 feet. Wie hits her third out of the rough but comes up short and right in more rough. Gossett bangs his over the flagstick to 24 feet. Wie floats her pitch to 5 feet, inside Hartmann. Gossett's birdie try dies on the lip, Hartmann's burns the lower left edge and Wie's par attempt is drilled to the back of the cup.
1 under through eight holes.
Hole No. 7, 185 yards
Wie, again hitting first, lands just shy of hole high about 25 feet. Gossett blasts out of a bunker to 8 feet and Hartmann drains a 40-footer from the front of the green. Gossett saves par and Wie makes par.
1 under through seven holes.
Hole No. 6 485 yards, par 5
Wie seems uncertain of the line off the tee, gesturing several times to her caddie how to attack the tree lines dogleg right. In the end she hits a long drive down the fairway's left side, a good angle to attack the front left hole location. Her approach barely clears the front bunker and hops to the rear fringe, inside 24 feet.
As the players walk to the green, a spectator asks Dave Anderson, the esteemed New York Times columnist, whether Wie will make the front page. "It's up to her," he responds.
Gossett and Hartmann both scramble, Hartmann nearly holes out from the left back bunker after short siding himself. Wie's ball is a few inches from the rough collar, close enough that she must slightly alter her stroke. Her eagle putt falls well short and the 3-footer to clean up her birdie drops.
1 under through six holes.
Hole No. 5, 411 yards
Wie drives to the right center of the fairway, which descends about 30 feet to the green. Gossett pulls his approach well left of the green before Wie hits the green but leaves her longest putt of the round, more than 30 feet. Hartmann airmails the green. Gossett pitches up to about 5 feet and Hartmann to about 4. Wie lags to inside a foot -- it would have dropped if it had been long enough -- and taps in for par. Gossett makes 4 but Hartmann seems to flinch on his stroke and lips out.
Even par through five holes.
Hole No. 4, 156 yards
Once again hitting first, Wie goes directly at the flagstick on the uphill short hole and stuffs it inside 3 feet, but loses the putt right and barely catches the edge of the hole. Another wonderful opportunity lost.
Even par through four holes.
Hole No. 3, 363 yards
A downhill tee shot and all three players find the fairway, Wie farthest around the dogleg left. All three hit the green, Wie stopping about eight feet from the hole on the soft green. Both men miss before Wie drifts left and taps in for par. These first three putts are the type that can spell the difference between qualifiers and those who miss the cut.
Even par through three holes.
Hole No. 2, 394 yards
Wie's drive to the center of the fairway leaves about 125 uphill yards. Hitting first she tosses her wedge shot into about 8 feet, closest of the group. Hartmann's recovery from over the back remains outside Wie and Gossett, from the right fringe about 20 feet away misses for birdie. Hartmann makes bogey before Wie's birdie try breaks weakly off to the right below the hole.
Even par through two holes.
South course first hole, 460 yards
About 500 people line the tee and down the fairway as the 8:35 a.m. group finally begins play shortly after 8:50 a.m. Wie receives a polite round of applause when she walks onto the tee. Still photographers shoot a burst of photos.
Wie drives into the left rough and has a sidehill lie from about 190 yards. She lays up short of the pond fronting the green and hits a low wedge in to about 12 feet. Hartmann makes a 12 footer for birdie and Gossett fails to make his own 12 footer for par before Wie drops her par saver.
Even par through one hole.
8:33 a.m. -- Never a good sign: Starting times off the first tee of the South Course are running nearly 20 minutes late so Wie cools her jets on a small putting green off to the side.
7:59 a.m. -- Wie walks onto the practice tee and must wait a few minutes for an open spot in the hitting line. In case you were wondering, her salmon sweater is almost an identical color as James Driscoll's shirt.
7:36 a.m. -- Wie arrives about 7:20 a.m. and the car is immediately surrounded by photographers. Already hundreds of spectators mill around the practice tee, awaiting her arrival. A few minutes later Billy Andrade pulls into a nearby parking spot and he is approached by only one person.