Wie Trying to Follow in Babes Footsteps


2006 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- It wasn't on her summer reading list, but Michelle Wie took time to read a biography on Babe Zaharias last July and she could use it for inspiration at the Sony Open.
Zaharias won the javelin throw and 80-meter hurdles in the 1932 Olympics, then took up golf and won three U.S. Women's Opens among her five majors. Of late, however, Zaharias is remembered as the last woman to make the cut on the PGA Tour in 1945.

'She was amazing,' Wie said. 'I cried at the end, though.'
Zaharias died of cancer in 1956 when she was 42.
This is the third straight year Wie is playing in the Sony Open, and her seventh time competing against the men. She has yet to make the cut, although expectations are greater than ever she can finish among the top 70 and ties after two rounds at Waialae Country Club.
'I have a lot of experience here. I've played in a lot of different conditions,' Wie said.
Wie will play the first two rounds with Chris Couch and Camilo Villegas of Columbia, both of whom made it to the PGA Tour by finishing in the top 20 last year on the Nationwide Tour. Couch is one of the longest hitters in golf, while Villegas is coping with a hangnail on his left hand that he kept bandaged.
'Hopefully, I'll be ready to meet Michelle and play well,' Villegas said. 'It's going to be a great experience. I know there will be a lot of people. I know there will be a lot of distraction. But the bottom line is there's 18 fairways and 18 greens, and you have to hit them.'
They are in the morning-afternoon cycle, meaning Wie will know what the cut line is when she finishes Friday.
Wie nearly made the cut in the John Deere Classic last year until a double bogey on the 16th hole. In Japan, she was under the cut line late in the second round at the Casio World Open until bogeys on the last two holes.
She is playing this Sony Open for money, if she can get to the weekend. Wie turned pro in October, right before she turned 16, and signed endorsement deals that could bring her as much as $10 million.
Wie said she didn't feel any differently as a pro.
'It's pretty cool to have a name on my bag,' she said.
The high school junior played a practice round with Sean O'Hair and Justin Rose, both of whom were impressed.
'I was expecting a good player, but not a seasoned player,' said O'Hair, the PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2005. 'Everything was right there. She seems like she's been doing this a while.'
Rose played a practice round with Wie for the second straight year and noticed improvement.
'Last time I saw her was a few months ago,' Rose said. 'She is always impressive to watch. Her swing is getting very efficient. She loads it up really well.'
Wie also has been loading up on the fitness, working with Paul Gagne, a physiologist who works primarily with hockey players. She said she has added five pounds of muscle, and coach David Leadbetter said the extra strength allows her to hold the club in position at the top of her swing.
Asked what would make a successful week, Wie said to know she played her best. Having missing the cut by one stroke as a 14-year-old, Wie said she was more result-oriented last year at the Sony Open, and missed the cut by seven.
'It's the road you take that's the most important thing,' she said.

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