Sunday, February 9, 2003

13-year-old girl makes cut in men's Hawaii Pearl Open

The Associated Press

AIEA, Hawaii - Thirteen-year-old Michelle Wie made the cut for the final round of the Hawaii Pearl Open on Saturday, shooting a 1-over 73 to finish two rounds at 3-over 147.

Wie was 12 strokes behind leader Greg Meyer, a Japanese tour player who was at 9-under 135 after two rounds. Meyer is the assistant golf pro at the Pearl Country Club, where the $80,000 tournament is being played.

Playing from the championship tees, Wie is the only female in the field of 192, and the youngest overall. The eighth grader was tied for 44th with seven others and had a two-stroke lead over six-time champion David Ishii, the club's director of golf.

"I was struggling a lot," Wie said. "My driver was OK, but my second shot was really bad."

She hit only seven greens in regulation, but putted only 25 times.

"Her putting saved her day," her father B.J. Wie said. "Her driver was really good. No major mistakes."

Michelle Wie said she had problems her left leg, which was a little swollen and stiff from the bee stings she suffered in the first round.

The top 80 players plus ties qualified for Sunday's play, including at least 15 amateurs. Wie entered the day tied for 50th, seven strokes off the lead in one of the premier men's golf tournaments in Hawaii.

Wie is sticking to her goal in the three-day event - which draws half of its field from top Japanese pro and amateur players - to place in the top 20. Former participants include Hidemichi Tanaka and Shigeki Maruyama, now both on the PGA Tour. Tanaka won the event in 2001.

By making the cut, Wie said she can rest a little easier.

"It's a little less pressure (Sunday), but it's still pressure," she said.

Wie started the day on the 10th tee and made the turn at 37 with two birdies and bogeys on Nos. 15, 17 and 18. She shot even par on the back nine, bogeying the par-5 fifth and birdieing No. 7.

In last year's Hawaii Pearl Open, Wie failed to make the cut by two strokes after rounds of 74 and 80.

Last month, Wie tried to qualify for the PGA Tour Sony Open at the Pearl Country Club. She shot a 1-over 73 from the back tees and tied for 47th against 96 men.

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