HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (AP) — Standing behind the first tee as the last group teed off at the LPGA Championship was Lisa Fernandes, the first alternate in the tournament who had more than a passing interest in Michelle Wie.
Her hopes of playing ended when Wie teed off.
“I was going to ask her if she planned on finishing,” Fernandes said. “Because if she wasn’t, I want her spot.”
Not to worry — Wie finished not only one round, but two.
Wie followed the same script Friday, never taking the cover off her driver, playing cautiously on a Bulle Rock course that others attacked, and finding small consolation in a 2-over 74.
A week after withdrawing from the Ginn Tribute after 16 holes, Wie was begging for a chance to keep playing.
She needed some late help.
Wie was at 3-over 147, 11 shots behind Suzann Pettersen, and in a tie for 80th when she signed her card. The top 70 and ties make the cut, and it came down to the last group on the last hole, where Karen Davies made bogey to allow Wie and 14 other players to make the cut on the number.
“This was 5,000 times better than last week,” Wie said.
She was referring to her ailing wrists, but could have easily been talking about criticism from players, the commissioner and observers who questioned why she would withdraw after 16 holes — two shots away from an 88 that would ban her from the LPGA for the rest of the year — then show up at Bulle Rock to hit balls and eventually play in the tournament.
“I just need to keep working on it,” Wie said. “My wrist has to get healing. I have to get strong, and I just have to play more, it’s that simple. I feel like it’s in me. I hit some really great tee shots, some really good second shots, some really clutch putts. And I just feel like it’s getting better and better.”
It looked about the same.
She had four bogeys on the front nine, mainly because of poor chips, offset by a 30-foot birdie from the fringe on the fourth hole.
Sensing the cut might come at 2 over, she didn’t show any quit. Wie made back-to-back birdies with a 20-foot putt on the 14th and a shot gouged out the rough that caught a slope and stopped 6 feet away for birdie on the 15th.
But she saved her worst for last.
Another hybrid club went well right into deep rough, and her second shot stayed right in more rough, leaving her a tough shot to a pin tucked to the right between two ridges. She was a few yards short of pulling off a great shot, but it caught one of the ridges and she had to settle for a two-putt bogey from 35 feet.
Wie hasn’t missed the cut after playing 36 holes on the LPGA Tour since she was 13 at the Kroger Classic. A week after her debacle at the Ginn Tribute, she was eager to keep playing.
“I think it’s very important that I just keep playing rounds,” she said.
Even so, this was one tournament where even Wie conceded she has no chance of winning. She is giving up so much distance off the tee by not hitting driver that she wound up hitting first from the fairway on every hole.
“Deep in my soul, I wanted to win this week,” she said. “But realistically, I wanted to show myself that I’m better, like I can play and I can actually make birdies out here and I can actually keep it in the fairway.”
Asked what she has learned over the last few weeks, Wie stuck to her health and golf, not the conduct.
“I realize I have to be careful with my body,” she said. “I never realized how long it would take to fight back an injury. Now I realize that it just takes a lot of patience and a lot of hard work to get back to where I was.”