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Marucci battles time on Walker Cup choices

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Sixty days may seem like a long time, but not when you're Buddy Marucci, the U.S. Walker Cup captain, and you have to travel all over the nation scouting candidates.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Sixty days may seem like a long time, but not when you're Buddy Marucci, the U.S. Walker Cup captain, and you have to travel all over the nation scouting candidates.

Marucci was at the Black course of Bethpage State Park yesterday, meeting with U.S. Golf Association officials, speaking with potential candidates, and, yes, finalizing the uniform styles and colors.

He said he met with the team selection committee, "getting our ducks in a row because we only have 60 days to pick the first seven or eight guys on the team," which will compete in September against the top amateurs from Britain and Ireland at Merion Golf Club.

Yesterday, he planned a visit to the locker room "to talk to a couple of players who were fortunate enough to make the Open," and to "see what their remaining schedule is going to be. We want to make sure everybody knows what's going on."

The only holdover from the 2007 U.S. Walker Cup team playing at the Open who is still an amateur, or plans to remain an amateur through the summer, is Rickie Fowler, who just finished his sophomore season at Oklahoma State.

Other top amateurs in the field are all-American Cameron Tringale of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech's Drew Weaver, the 2007 British Amateur champion.

Marucci, a Merion member, competed last week at the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa.

"I got a chance to play with a couple of kids I wanted to play with," he said. "I got to watch them up front, which is good. I really enjoy that part of it, because you get to see the way they react on the golf course to good shots and bad shots."

Marucci said that there were 20 to 25 players "that have earned notice" for Walker Cup consideration, but that this did not prevent someone else from being added to the pool with a good performance.

Marucci plans to make his first picks at the end of the Western Amateur in early August.

A Lion rising. Penn State's Kevin Foley put himself into potential Walker Cup consideration last week by opening with a record-tying 61 and winning the Sunnehanna Amateur by 5 strokes.

Foley of Somerville, N.J., is a third-team all-American who just completed his junior year. Brian Harman of Georgia finished second, and Oklahoma State's Fowler third.

"This was definitely a big event for me," Foley said on the Penn State athletic department's Web site. "I played well in the toughest field, and hopefully I keep it up for the rest of the summer."

Pride in Bethpage. The role Dick Smith played in turning Bethpage Black into a U.S. Open venue is on display again this week, and makes the former president of the PGA of America proud.

Smith was named director of golf at Bethpage in 1998, shortly after the 2002 U.S. Open was awarded to the public course on Long Island. His task was to upgrade and improve the pro shop, cart barn, and driving range.

He spent four years there before returning to South Jersey but stayed involved as a consultant. His name remains on a sign on a hut near the clubhouse that says, "Bethpage Pro Shop, PGA Instructional Staff."

"I still feel a part of it," said Smith, now operating a golf school at Valleybrook and Running Deer Golf Clubs in South Jersey. "Everyone who was there contributed to what it is, and we feel good about it. It's fun to watch.

"I enjoy anything that has to do with Bethpage. The fact that it went from a down-and-dirty public course to a U.S. Open venue makes it very special."

Setback for Wie. Michelle Wie missed earning a berth at next month's U.S. Women's Open by 1 stroke, meaning she has just one avenue remaining if she hopes to play in the championship at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem.

Wie, 19, who has played in every Women's Open since she was 13, posted a 145 on Monday in the 36-hole sectional qualifier in Rockville, Md.

Wie now must win either of the final two LPGA Tour events before the Women's Open - the Wegman's LPGA in Rochester, N.Y., or the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Toledo, Ohio - to get into the field.