Shes Michelle Wie, a resident of Honolulu, and shes so good for a 13-year-old its scary.
I just have a really special talent that God gave me, she said with a shrug, trying to explain why she is so much better than any other youth her age.
She plays against girls, boys, women, men ' she doesnt discriminate. She will tee it up this summer against the men of the Canadian Tour twice, and she has played against men in her home state of Hawaii about 10 or 11 times, she estimates. Included in that number is an appearance at the Pearl Open recently, a professional tournament which includes a lot of Japanese pros. Wie was excellent, finishing fourth.
But she still cant play on the high school teams ' remember, shes only in the eighth grade. She wont be able to turn professional and try for the LPGA until 2008. It may be even later than that ' she says she wants to get a scholarship to Stanford University before she starts playing for a paycheck.
She eventually wants to play in the Masters ' the Masters! Is it a realistic goal?
I think its pretty realistic because its possible, she says with eighth-grade simplicity. She wont have to go through the roadblock of Hootie Johnson and the men-only policy of the club, she hopes, because she hopes to win a qualifying tournament.
I would like to play the (U.S.) Public Links, she said, because its the fastest way to the Masters.
This fascination with the Masters, incidentally, is not a new thing. She has been fantasizing about it for a while now ' Just a long time ago when my dad used to watch the Masters, I used to be like, Oh, could I play there.
And how long ago was that?
When I was young, like seven, she said.
Michelle admitted that she snuck up and made a special introduction on the practice range at Mission Hills this week. She was whacking drives behind Se Ri Pak, and couldnt help but introduce herself.
She was practicing right behind me yesterday in the afternoon, said Pak. Wow, she's got some swing.
She's only 13 years old and she's got strong - I can feel that strongly, her swing speed, and she's tall. She's got a pretty good swing. Just, I mean, all I can just say - well, she has to have a lot of experience until she turns pro, but looks like she's got some game, too. I can't say exactly, but I can see that she's going to be a really good player.
I was a little nervous, Wie said, in typical 13-year-old style.
She says she isnt scared, and her words have the ring of sincerity. Maybe she just doesnt know how difficult her assignment can be ' after all, she said her goal is to jump in the lake Sunday. But maybe its just that, at 13, she really doesnt have any expectations.
I just try the best I can each shot, said Wie. (I) just dont think ' Im just trying not to think that, This is a birdie hole. That puts so much pressure on me.
I just try the best I can with every shot and see what happens.
This is one eighth-grader who appears to know exactly where she is headed. And where she is headed is all the way to the top of the golf world.