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Wie Has Modest Goals as LPGA Season Tees Off

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WAIKOLOA, Hawaii -- Michelle Wie had a lot on her mind as she prepared for her first LPGA Tour start.
 
'Oh my God,' the 12-year-old player said Wednesday. 'I have to make up a Chinese test and a math test and a speech.'
 
Wie, the youngest player to earn a spot in an LPGA Tour event through a Monday qualifier, will join top stars Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster and defending champion Lorie Kane in the season-opening Takefuji Classic that begins Thursday.
 
'My goal now is just to make the cut,' Wie said. 'After that, I'm going to try and make the top 10.'
 
In high wind Monday on the 6,165-yard oceanside Waikoloa Beach Resort course, Wie had an 83, including 10 penalty strokes.
 
'I was in the lava every other hole,' she said. 'The wind makes it really hard to keep it on the fairway.'
 
The seventh grader from Honolulu broke the Monday qualifier age record of 14 set by Natalie Gulbis in the 1997 Longs Drug Challenge. Beverly Klass is the youngest player to compete on the LPGA Tour, playing four events in 1967 at age 10.
 
The wind has settled since Monday, but is still a major factor.
 
'I don't mind the wind, but nobody wants to see ridiculous golf,' Kane said. 'Whoever becomes champion is obviously going to have a lot of patience.'
 
Sorenstam, the 2001 Player of the Year who opened the season last week in Australia with a playoff victory over Karrie Webb, said she doesn't feel any pressure to repeat her eight-win season, the most since Nancy Lopez did it in 1979.
 
'I know last year was an amazing season for me, but I don't think anything is impossible,' she said. 'I'm going to keep working and I think I can do it again.'
 
Kane said getting back into form following the offseason shouldn't be too difficult.
 
'What's different is we're walking,' she said. '(In the offseason), you tend to play cart golf. If there's anything rusty, it's my feet.'
 
She met Wie for the first time in the clubhouse Wednesday.
 
'Wow, you are tall,' Kane said.
 
Wie, who stands at 5-foot-10 and wears a size 9 men's shoe, said she often gets questioned about her age. More so, following last year's Little League debacle with pitcher Danny Almonte.
 
Her father, B.J. Wie, said his daughter's age also comes into question while paying the children's price at buffets.
 
'People always ask, 'What do you feed her?' ' he said.
 
The minimum age to join the LPGA Tour is 18, but Wie doesn't plan on turning pro until she's 22. She wants to finish college before joining the tour.
 
Sorenstam said Wie should just enjoy her experience and not rush into things.
 
'Twelve is when I started (golf),' Sorenstam said. 'My handicap was 63. I don't think I would've qualified here.'
 
Wie said being from Hawaii gives her a slight edge.
 
'I'm used to the greens, but not to the wind,' she said.
 
She'll play conservative this week and not try to blast her drives, which average 280 yards.
 
In early February, Wie became the first female to qualify for the Hawaii Pearl Open, which typically attracts many of Japan's top golfers. She played off the men's tees and finished in the top half, but missed the cut.
 
Wie turned to men's events last year after winning Hawaii's premier women's amateur tournament, beating the defending champion by nine strokes.
 
Wie said she won't get nervous or rattled about playing against pros or veterans -- like Betsy King who joined the tour in 1977, 12 years before Wie was born.
 
'She has nothing to lose,' her father said.