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Wie, Creamer Still Hanging Around

By Brendan Tierney, USGA

South Hadley, Mass. -- With 16 amateur golfers competing in the 2004 U.S. Women's Open, including several teenagers who have been in contention at other LPGA Tour events, this year has offered the best chance for a non-professional to win since Jenny Chuasiriporn lost in the 1998 playoff to Se Ri Pak.

After all, it has been 37 years since an amateur went home with the title of Women's Open champ.

When 12 amateurs failed to make the cut, the Orchards Golf Club was left with four walking the course this weekend. They included 14-year-old Michelle Wie, 17-year-old Paula Creamer, runner-up of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, 18-year-old Brittany Lincicome and high school senior Jennie Lee, 17.

Coming off her high of 66 in the first round, Brittany Lincicome shot a 5-over 76 Saturday . (John Mummert/USGA)

After Saturday's play both Wie and Creamer maintained their positions near the top of the leader board and prepared for Sunday's final round. Wie, who dropped three bogeys in her first seven holes, came roaring back to get to 3 under par after 17 holes. However, a bad lie and a three-putt led to a double bogey on 18 and a finishing score of even for the day. She was 1-under 212 for the championship.

"I had a weird lie on that," said Wie. " It was like I was partly in a divot and it was a little bit strange. But, I don't know, that three-putt shouldn't have come out."

Overall though, Wie was pleased with her day that left her six strokes behind leader Jennifer Rosales. "I was 2 over after seven. and I came back, and I was really proud of myself for that. But I made a couple of mistakes, and hopefully I'll be making less mistakes [Sunday]. It was my goal to shoot 4 under, so I have to shoot 3 under [Sunday]."

Right on Wie's heels for the low-amateur score was fellow 2004 USA Curtis Cup teammate Creamer. Creamer shot a 1-over 72 for the day and ended up at par for the championship.

"It was an interesting day for me," she said of her four birdie and five bogey round, "I never had that exciting, turn-the-tide hole."

The toughest part of the round for her may have been waiting to tee off.

"I bogeyed two and three and that was just nerves," said Creamer said. "It was tough to go to sleep last night."

Another competitor who had a tough time sleeping was Lincicome, whose 66 on Thursday put her at the top of the leader board and atop the headlines.

"[Friday] I was still on a high from all the media, all the autographs, and the phone calls," she said of her Friday round where she shot 77 to drop to 1 over par.

Despite coming down from this high, she struggled with her second shots again on Saturday, shooting a 76 and leaving her at 6 over entering Sunday's final round. However, the 18-year-old reflected on the positive side of her round, saying, "I had more fun today even though I played bad," she said. "This experience is something I can't even explain."

Perhaps the best hole of the day came from the most unlikely of the amateurs. Lee, of Huntington Beach, Calif., hit her 7-wood to 15 feet of the hole on the par-5 13th, and then sank the putt for an eagle. However, a triple-bogey on the sixth hole and a couple more bogeys down the stretch left her at 7 over for the championship.