July 19, 2005

Wie back on women’s trophy trail

By Mark Ledsom

EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Teenage prodigy Michelle Wie is
resetting her sights on the women's game this week, five days
after narrowly missing out on her lifelong dream to qualify for
the U.S. Masters.

Bidding to become the first female to play in a men's
major, the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Hawaii made it to the
last eight of last week's U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament
before losing in matchplay format to the eventual winner.

Wie was hoping to win the event, thereby earning an invite
for next year's Masters.

"I was disappointed with the result but pleased with how I
played," Wie told reporters after arriving here for the women's
$2.5 million Evian Masters. "Hopefully I'll have more chances
in the future."

Few who have seen Wie in action would challenge that

The six-foot (1.83-meter) Wie is already out-hitting most
of her women rivals, and many of the men, with regular drives
of 300-yards plus.

In January 2004 she became only the fourth female, and the
youngest overall, to play an event on the men's PGA Tour,
missing the cut by one stroke.

In her second crack at the men's circuit, in this month's
John Deere Classic, Wie missed the cut by two shots.

The American looks set to become the first female to make a
men's cut and maybe even become a regular on the men's tour.

"Obviously I'd love for that to happen one day," Wie said.
"I learn so much from the men and it's really fun.

"They're awesome players and awesome people so I really
love being with them. I can't really explain it beyond that,
it's just something I've always wanted to do."


Wie, yet to win her first senior tournament, comfortably
handled the questions posed at a packed news conference,
including the almost inevitable comparisons with men's world
number one Tiger Woods.

Asked about predictions she will beat Woods by the time she
turns 20, Wie said: "I hope to do it before then."

On her ambitions this season, she added: "I want to win at
least one tournament...because I've been so close all year
long. I've come to the last big step so now I just have to make
that step to win."

Despite still putting her studies before her golf, Wie has
shone on the women's circuit this year.

The teen-ager was a runner-up at the SBS Open and the LPGA
Championship, where she was beaten by Swedish world number one
Annika Sorenstam.

Nine-times major winner Sorenstam, 34, will be among those
challenging Wie in a strong Evian field which also includes
American Juli Inkster and Australia's Karrie Webb.

It is a daunting line-up but for Wie it seems there are
other things to worry about.

"I go back to school at the end of August," she sighed.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting up with my friends
again but I'm not happy that we have to wear a uniform this
year. I've heard it's really strict."