-- Michelle Wie and her Curtis Cup teammate, Paula Creamer, could have walked away from the 59th U.S. Women's Open with a check for $60,602. Instead, they'll both have to be content with a tie for 13th place Sunday and the medal awarded as low amateur in the field, as well as an automatic invitation to the 2005 Open at Cherry Hills in Denver after making the top 20.
"I didn't play the way I wanted to, but I'm still happy with how I finished," said Wie, who has had four top-20 finishes in her four professional tournaments this season and played this week on a special exemption awarded by the U.S. Golf Association. "I wasn't thinking about the low amateur, I was thinking about the trophy, and that was kind of impossible after a while."
Wie shot 73 and ended at 2-over-par 285. She said earlier in the week she hoped to end at 4 under for the tournament, but double bogeys in each of her first three rounds also made that virtually impossible. She also recalled saying publicly that if anyone shot 65 Sunday -- as champion Meg Mallon did -- that person deserved to win.
Creamer, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., had a 72 on Sunday and was delighted about earning an exemption for next year after getting through a 36-hole qualifier to play here this week. Both she and Wie played down what is expected to become a spirited future rivalry between the two talented teenagers.
"There is going to be a rivalry sooner or later," Wie said. "But we're really good friends and right now we're just having fun and playing golf. We haven't talked about it yet. I don't think we sense it enough to talk about it."
"I think we are very good friends, very close," Creamer said. "On the course, everybody has a rivalry with everybody out there. When you win a tournament, you beat everybody, so I don't know if there's going to be an on-course rivalry, but I do like to win all the tournaments I play in."
Creamer said she played in a practice round with Mallon earlier in the week and with Kelly Robbins on Saturday in the third round. She said she learned course management from both players and was somewhat in awe of their short games. She also said that she and the other teens in the field were sending a message to the LPGA Tour.
"We can play," she said. "It's just a matter of time until we're out there."
First-round leader Brittany Lincicome, an 18-year-old amateur from Seminole, Fla., ended with her worst score of the week, a 78 that left her at 13-over 297. Still, she hit her third shot stiff at the 72nd hole for the only birdie on her card Sunday, and "that made my day." Lincicome shot a first-round 66, matching a record round by an amateur in the tournament, but only had three birdies in her last three rounds.
"I think I learned a lot about myself this week," she said. "If I'm not smiling and bubbly, my game is going to go sour. I have to stay positive."
Lincicome plans to stay an amateur at least through the U.S. Women's Amateur next month, and after that, she may attempt to get sponsor's exemptions at tournaments until she goes to LPGA Tour qualifying school in October. . . .
Of the 16 teenagers who started play, only six survived the cut: Lincicome; Wie, 14; Creamer, 17; Jennie Lee, 17; Aree Song, 18; and Shi Hyun Ahn, 19. Of the 16 amateurs who started, only four -- Wie, Creamer, Lincicome and Lee -- played on the weekend.