Belle Vernon, Pa.
Michelle Wie is one step closer to playing in the Masters.
Wie, 15, became the first female to qualify for a male U.S. Golf Association championship June 14, tying for first in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur Public Links sectional qualifying tournament.
Wie advances to the Public Links July 11-16 at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio.
The Public Links champion traditionally receives an exemption into the Masters.
At the qualifier, Wie matched Artie Fink Jr. of Altoona, Pa., at 1-over 145 at Cedarbrook Golf Course to earn the two spots from the field of 78. Wie shot 71-74 over the 6,771-yard, par-72 course.
Wie finished second to Annika Sorenstam June 12 at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
Wie, the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links winner at age 13, attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open this year, but failed to advance in a local qualifier. She will play in the U.S. Women’s Open this week in Colorado, and has received an exemption into the Women’s British Open in late July.
Wie also will make her third appearance in a PGA Tour event when she plays in the John Deere Classic July 7-10, the week before the Public Links. The top finisher in the John Deere not otherwise exempt for the British Open will earn a spot the following week at St. Andrews, leaving open the long-shot possibility that Wie could earn a spot in the major and skip the Public Links.
If Wie were to win the Public Links she also would receive an exemption into this year’s men’s U.S. Amateur; exemption from local qualifying for the next three U.S. Opens if still an amateur; and an exemption from sectional qualifying at the next 10 Public Links, if otherwise eligible.