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Fledging Michelle Wie Challenging Male Counterparts

Posted May. 25, 2003 21:46,   


Powerful thirteen-year old Michelle Wie (in photo), can drive her tee-shots over 300 yards. Might it be possible for her to become a competitor with pro male golfers?

Annika Sorenstam was not able to move into the main tournament of the Colonial Championship due to her handicap based on inferiority in strength. Attention is drawn to Wie however, who might be able to overcome this handicap, because she hits balls much further than ordinary male golfers.

Like Soranstam, Michelle Wie will play upon invitation at the Albertson`s Boise Open on the US PGA Nationwide Tour, which will take place in September at Hillcrest Country Club in Boise, Idaho.

Hillcrest Country Club does not seem to pose much of a problem for Wie. The course is only par-71 and 6,685 yards. As demonstrated at the Kraft Nabisco Championship early this year, however, Wie has a long way to go till mastery, among other things, in putting. Of course, her performance at the championship was excellent as an amateur; she secured the ninth spot. Nonetheless, it is hard to deny that she continued to make putting errors.

In addition, the "male pro courses" have narrower fair ways. People therefore are wondering whether her tee-shot can fly a long distance with accuracy. Furthermore, media attention will shower down on her, which may be hard to handle for a thirteen-year old girl. Even Sorenstam, who is famous for maintaining her calm, faced a tough time managing her pace under the media spotlight. Wie, however, in a May 16 interview with AP, confidently said, "Distance is the only difference between men and women in golf. Some day in the near future, we will not talk about women playing in men`s tournaments any longer."

We wonder whether Michelle Wie can accomplish what Sorenstam could not.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com