Amazing Wie has sights fixed on bigger things
Every Asian parent loves to have their child excel

Michelle Wie, seen blasting out of a greenside bunker on the second hole during the first round, is thinking of making a run at the leaders.


Michelle Wie wants to do more than make history.

The 15-year-old shot one-under 70 at the John Deere Classic, keeping her hopes alive of being the first woman in 60 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour. She was on the right side of the line when she finished, but the cut had moved to two under at the end of the day.

''I'm not really thinking about the cut,'' said Wie, who is level for 73rd. ''I'm only five shots behind (the early leaders), and if I put up three crazy rounds, who knows?''

``It's impressive at 15, that's for sure,'' said Scott Gutschewski, one of Wie's playing partners. ``I don't know how many 15-year-olds could come out here and do that, let alone a 15-year-old girl.''

It was Wei's second-lowest round in a PGA Tour event, and she beat both her playing partners. She played her last 10 holes at three under, had five drives over 290 yards and missed only one putt from inside 10 feet.

Incidentally, Hunter Mahan shot an eight-under 63 to take the lead and JL Lewis is one stroke behind.

``She's going to beat a lot of guys today. She'll probably beat a lot of guys tomorrow,'' said Gutschewski, who finished at even par.

Though Wie is still three months away from her 16th birthday, she has already achieved Major-player status. She has been second twice on the LPGA Tour this year, including a runner-up finish at the LPGA Championship, and had a share of the third-round lead at the US Women's Open.

She also has that same megastar appeal Tiger Woods had when he was a teenager. A couple hundred people were waiting for her at the first hole, and that number grew to 2,000 by the time she made the turn. By the end of the round, there were 5,000 people on the 18th.

Just as when Woods plays, fans were on the move as soon as she hit or putted, regardless of what Gutschewski was doing. Her every shot was cheered, and more than a few people were heard saying, ``And she's only 15!''

``On the surface, it was a very well-played round. Then you realize she's a 15-year-old girl, and it's mind-boggling,'' said Nick Watney, who shot four-over 75. ``She's a phenom. When I was 15, I sure didn't look like that.''

Wie might have been showing some of her age early, when she fell to two over with back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth.

``If I had made those two bogeys in a row (last year), it would have been kind of tough because I was really young,'' Wie said, drawing laughter. ``I'm pretty young now, but I've gotten a lot older and more mature. I have a lot more experience. I know what to expect.''

She finally righted herself on number nine and made a 12-footer on the 11th hole to get back to even-par.

Her birdie on the 17th easily could have been an eagle.

With about 260 yards to the green on her second shot, Wie hit a three-wood to within 10 feet. But her eagle putt broke too far right, leaving her three feet from the hole.

``I was kind of disappointed on that hole,'' Wie said. ``I felt like I should have made an eagle there.''  - by Nancy Armour  REUTERS ASSOCIATED PRESS    9 July 2005


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