Wie Impressive in PGA Tour Debut

By Sports NetworkJanuary 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- Carlos Franco fired a 7-under 63 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii on a day that was highlighted by Michelle Wie's history-making debut on the PGA Tour.
Jesper Parnevik finished alone in second place at 5-under-par 65. Aaron Baddeley, who lost this event in a playoff to Ernie Els last year, was one shot further back at 4-under-par 66 along with Craig Barlow, Ted Purdy, David Ishii, Stephen Ames and Luke Donald.
Wie, who has made plenty of history throughout her young career as an amateur, had failed to qualify for the event at Waialae Country Club on two previous occasions, but got her chance to play alongside the men of the PGA Tour after she received an invitation and a sponsor's exemption to the 2004 edition of the tournament.
'It was wonderful,' said Wie, who became the youngest woman to ever compete alongside the men of the PGA Tour. 'There were so many people out there today. They were really good, supporting me, and whenever I made a putt, they were just awesome.'
The hard-hitting ninth-grader played the back side first and split the fairway with her drive off the 10th tee en route to a par. At the par-4 12th, Wie dropped her approach inside 10 feet and drained the putt for her first birdie of the day.
Wie, who became the youngest player to ever win a USGA championship when she captured the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links title last year, found a greenside bunker with her second shot to the par-4 13th and bogeyed the hole. She found the sand again at the par-4 14th and could not get up and down to save par.
She had a five-footer for par at the par-4 first, but pushed the ball right of the hole. Wie knocked her tee shot into a greenside bunker at the par-3 fourth, but this time was able to save par after a solid shot from the sand.
Wie struggled on the green at the par-4 fifth and took three putts for a bogey. She responded at the very next hole, however, and drained a 16-foot putt for her second birdie of the day.
At the par-3 seventh, Wie had a tricky putt to save par but her ball lipped out of the hole.
Wie closed her round with a positive at the par-5 ninth after blasting her approach into a greenside bunker. She played her third shot out of the sand to 10 feet and ran home the putt for a respectable 2-over-par 72 showing in her first PGA Tour round.
'I think I was playing it more safe today,' said Wie. 'But if I make it to Saturday I'm going to go at every flag.'
Wie has already played alongside men twice before, once on the Nationwide Tour and once on the Canadian Tour, but now the young Hawaiian has followed in the footsteps of Annika Sorenstam and Suzy Whaley, both of whom have competed on the PGA Tour dating back to Sorenstam's historical appearance at the Colonial in May of 2003.
Franco hit his tee shot to 10 feet for a birdie at the par-3 seventh and ran home a 25-foot putt for an eagle at the par-5 ninth to make the turn at 3 under.
The 38-year-old, who has missed the cut in each of his last two appearances at this event, added birdies at the 11th and the 13th before knocking his tee ball inside two feet for a birdie at the par-3 17th.
Franco tapped in for birdie and two-putted for a birdie at the par-5 last to complete a career best round of 63 at the first full-field event of the 2004 season.
'When you play well, everything is good,' said Franco. 'When you play bad, very difficult to come back for your game.'
Parnevik collected five birdies and a bogey to finish two shots off the pace.
'I played very solid. I've been working really hard the last two months,' said Parnevik. 'You know, I have a clue where the golf ball is going for a change. I haven't really had a clue for the last two years. It's nice to be able to hit shots and trust it.'
Els, the defending champion, played the back side first and tallied two birdies over his first nine holes.
The South African stumbled with a bogey at the par-4 sixth but recovered with an eagle at the par-5 last to finish in a group at 3-under-par 67 that features former U.S. Open champions Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen.
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  • Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

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    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

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    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

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    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

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    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

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