St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Wie says she can make cut

wire services
Published January 16, 2004

HONOLULU - Michelle Wie hardly looked out of place Thursday at the Sony Open. Give her time, and the 14-year-old might prove she belongs on the PGA Tour.

Wie, believed to be the youngest player ever on the PGA Tour, made three birdies in a respectable round of 2-over 72 that left her nine strokes behind Carlos Franco.

Still, the ninth-grader at nearby Punahou School made quite an impression.

"I looked at her as another player," said Craig Bowden, her playing partner who shot 70.

Only when they chatted did Bowden realize this was no ordinary teenager playing on a sponsor's exemption.

"We don't have a lot in common," Bowden said. "I asked her when she was going to get her driver's license."

Wie is the third woman to play on the PGA Tour in the past eight months, following Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial and Connecticut club pro Suzy Whaley at the Greater Hartford Open.

Both missed the cut, and Wie probably will do the same.

She was tied for 105th among 144 players; the top 70 and ties qualify for the weekend.

"If I play the way I did today, with a couple of putts falling in, I think I could make the cut," she said. "I think I can shoot under par."

Jesper Parnevik had 65, and when told Wie's score, his expression went from amazement to relief.

"That was my first goal today, to beat her," Parnevik said. "That's something you would hear about forever. Annika is one thing. But if you have a 14-year-old girl ... "

Wie finished with the same score as three former major champions (Shaun Micheel, Tom Lehman and Jeff Sluman), and ahead of players such as Scott Hoch and Adam Scott (73).

Parnevik considered her youth and inexperience when he said, "I think it's 100 times more impressive than Annika playing Colonial."

When Sorenstam missed the cut, she said didn't belong on the PGA Tour.

Wie doesn't feel the same way.

"I think I learned that I can play here, but I have to work harder on my game to be in the winner's circle," Wie said. "I never felt out of place."

Franco, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, made eagle on No. 9 and was flawless on the back to shoot 63.

Aaron Baddeley, who lost in a playoff last year at Waialae, was among those at 66. Paul Azinger got his year off to a good start with 67.

All of them played in virtual anonymity.

Craig Barlow noticed the gallery swarming around Wie on the fifth tee, turned to his playing partners and said, "I didn't know Tiger was here."

"There wasn't a ton of people," he said. "But she gobbled them up."

Almost 3,000 fans - a Sunday crowd for the Sony Open - followed along. That included her father, B.J. Wie, who wore a "Wie-Go" shirt and a button on his visor that read, "Michelle, No Ka Oi."

That's Hawaiian for "Michelle is the best."

OBITUARY: Harold Sanderson, the oldest member of the PGA and the organization's second-longest serving member behind Gene Sarazen, died at 100.

Mr. Sanderson died Dec. 31, 2003, at the Roanoke United Methodist Home in Virginia, the PGA said on its Web site.

Mr. Sanderson was a member of the Professional Golfers Association for 77 years, second to Sarazen, who died in 1999 after 78 years of service.

Mr. Sanderson is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was buried in Somerset Hills Memorial Park in Basking Ridge, N.J.

AMATEUR WOMEN: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 77 in the second round of the South Atlantic Ladies Amateur to fall from first to third place among 98 contestants in Daytona Beach. Her 36-hole score of 148 was four behind leader Sara Huart, 21, of California. Paula Creamer of California was second with two rounds to play.

- Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.