Wie Leads Amateur Contingent at Open

RSS

2005 U.S. WomenCHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. -- She might be brazen. Or maybe just too darn young to know any better. Either way, 15-year-old Michelle Wie thinks she's ready to win the U.S. Open.
 
``If I never think I'm ready, then I can never win,'' Wie said. ``Always think positively.''
 
She had every reason to after a round of 2-over-par 73 on Friday that left her at even after two rounds, in second place, two strokes behind leader Nicole Perrot.

Wie wasn't alone among amateurs whose games were holding up under pressure.
 
Morgan Pressel, the 17-year-old who beat Wie at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship two years ago, also shot 73 to finish the day four strokes out of the lead.
 
``Four shots off with two days left?'' Pressel said. ``That's not bad. I could be higher, but I'll deal with it.''
 
First-round co-leader Brittany Lang shot 6 over to fall six strokes behind. Also in the hunt at 3 over was Amie Cochran, a 19-year-old who finished third at NCAA Championships earlier this year for UCLA.
 
Leading them all was Wie, who said she endured the kind of round in which she ``could have shot some ridiculous numbers today, but I kept my head.''
 
She opened the day hitting driver on No. 10 and wound up with a bogey. After hitting driver on No. 11, she didn't touch the club again -- save the fifth hole, when she put her hand on it on the tee box but thought wiser and hit an iron.
 
``It's very tempting,'' Wie said. ``You know, hit a heroic shot, it feels good, stuff like that. But, you know, you just have to play smart. I think that's what I did.''
 
Spoken like a true veteran.
 
She also salvaged some very difficult pars at points where the round could have gotten away from her. On No. 14, she saved par with a 5-footer. On No. 15, a par-3, she got up and down with a chip and an 8-foot par putt she celebrated with a mini fist pump.
 
In all, it was a controlled, mature effort from a player who isn't ashamed of trying to make history.
 
Next month, she'll compete in the men's U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament, the winner of which traditionally gets an automatic entry into the Masters. She has played on the PGA Tour twice with another appearance set for next month's John Deere Classic. She has been criticized by some, including Nancy Lopez, who said Wie should focus on trying to take down Annika Sorenstam before she focuses on the men.
 
Earlier this week, Wie deflected that criticism, saying ``I still have a lot to learn and I am learning a lot from Annika.''
 
And for the first two days of the Open, she was not only keeping up with Sorenstam, but ahead of her by four strokes after Sorenstam's second round of 75.
 
Not so for Lang, who was tied for the lead at 2 under after the first round and made birdie on her second hole to briefly hold the lead by herself, but finished the day at 4 over.
 
``I'm disappointed, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it,'' she said.
 
The Atlantic Coast Conference champion and a member of Duke's national-championship team, Lang could have turned pro after she graduated earlier this year, but decided to hang onto her amateur status until later this summer.
 
Days like Friday served to confirm that her choice was right.
 
``I just need more experience and that's what I'm getting this summer,'' Lang said.
 
Pressel, meanwhile, was her normal spunky self -- yelling at the ball when it didn't do what she wanted during her round of 1-over 73. She was in a much better frame of mind than Thursday, when she left the course crying after playing the last two holes in 3 over.
 
``I made some bogeys out there, but that's going to happen,'' Pressel said. ``It's the Women's Open.''
 
Wie said she understands the magnitude of the tournament, but she's trying to have fun while she's here.
 
She said she and the girl carrying the scoring standard in her group, who is about her age, whiled away the time during Thursday's rain delay conjuring up a new club.
 
``We called it Club Delay,'' Wie said.
 
Part of being in Club Delay meant they both had to wake up at 4:15 a.m. to be at the course in time for the final three holes of the first round.
 
It's not the way most 15-year-olds like to start their day. Luckily for Wie, she has the last tee time on Saturday.
 
``Let's put it this way: My school starts at 8:30, I wake up at 7:10 or 7:15, so this was kind of early,'' Wie said. ``I am a very big sleeper.''
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.