Archive for Friday, January 16, 2004

Wie shoots 72 at Sony

Fourteen-year-old nine back at PGA event

January 16, 2004

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— Michelle Wie hardly looked out of place Thursday at the Sony Open. Give her time, and the 14-year-old might prove she belongs on the PGA Tour.

Wie, believed to be the youngest player ever on the PGA Tour, made three birdies in a respectable round of 2-over 72 that left her nine strokes behind Carlos Franco.

Still, the ninth-grader at nearby Punahou School made quite an impression.

"I looked at her today as another player," said Craig Bowden, her playing partner who posted a 70.

Only when they chatted did Bowden realize this was no ordinary teenager playing on a sponsor's exemption.

"We don't have a lot in common," Bowden said. "I asked her when she was going to get her driver's license."

Wie is the third female to play on the PGA Tour in the last eight months, following Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial and Connecticut club pro Suzy Whaley at the Greater Hartford Open.

Both missed the cut, and Wie probably will do the same.

She was in a tie for 105th among 144 players; the top 70 and ties qualify for the weekend.

"If I play the way I did today, with a couple of putts falling in, I think I could make the cut," she said. "I think I can shoot under par tomorrow."

Jesper Parnevik had a 65, and when told what Wie shot, his expression went from amazement to relief.

"That was my first goal today, to beat her," Parnevik said. "That's something you would hear about forever. Annika is one thing. But if you have a 14-year-old girl ..."

Wie finished with the same score as three former major champions (Shaun Micheel, Tom Lehman and Jeff Sluman), and ahead of players such as Scott Hoch and Adam Scott (73).

Parnevik considered her youth and inexperience when he said, "I think it's 100 times more impressive than Annika playing Colonial."

When Sorenstam missed the cut, she said didn't belong on the PGA Tour.

Wie doesn't feel the same way.

"I think I learned that I can play here, but I have to work harder on my game to be in the winner's circle," Wie said. "I never felt out of place."

Franco, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, made an eagle on No. 9 and was flawless on the back to shoot 63.

Aaron Baddeley, who lost in a playoff last year at Waialae, was among those at 66. Paul Azinger got his year off to a good start with a 67.

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