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Against men or women, Wie struggles with the putter


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By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
Three days after her putter doomed her hopes of a U.S. Open berth, Wie missed six putts inside 12 feet on the first eight holes Thursday. She was toward the bottom of the pack until birdies on three of the final four holes gave her a 1-under 71, leaving her seven shots behind Nicole Castrale.

"I think my putting is getting better," she said.

Castrale used a late string of birdies on the closing holes for a different result. It helped her post a career-low 64, giving her a two-shot lead over Cristie Kerr and Pat Hurst.

Only about 750 people trudged over the hilly terrain of Bulle Rock to watch the 16-year-old Wie, much smaller than the estimated 3,500 who showed up at Canoe Brook in northern New Jersey for the U.S. Open sectional qualifier.

"What happened on Monday, you can't really see anywhere else," Wie said. "The crowds were very supportive today, even though it was not quite as huge as Monday. But they stayed until the end, so I was very happy."

About the same amount watched Annika Sorenstam earlier in the day as the three-time defending champion struggled at times off the tee and around the green for a 71 that included four birdies and three bogeys.

"It kind of summarized my year a little bit, so I'm not surprised," said Sorenstam, who has not won since her 2006 debut.

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