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Michelle Wie Wins First USGA Title

Posted June. 23, 2003 22:04,   


13-year-old Wie captures U.S. Public Links title and becomes the youngest winner of any adult USGA event.

Wie, the 13-year-old `golf phenomenon,` has proved her unlimited potential to the world yet again. She outlasted Virada Nirapathpongporn, who won the championship last year, for a 1-up victory on June 23 at Ocean Hammock to become the youngest golfer to win the U.S. Women`s Amateur Public Links Championship - Catherine Cartright was 17 when she won the Women`s Public Links in 2000.

Wei played in the final group at the Nabisco Championships in March this year, and made a huge comeback at the Public Links, in which she dropped out in the first round four years ago.

The victory did not come easy, though. Nirapathpongporn grabbed a 4-up lead after eight holes. Wie got back into the match with her awesome length, putting her some 80 yards ahead of the 21-year-old Thai.

Wie drove into a bunker down the left side of the par-5, 479-yard sixth hole. Instead of playing back toward the fairway, she hit 5-iron from 180 yards over the lake and just off the back of the green, then lipped out on her chip for eagle.

“My father wanted a lay-up, but I was stubborn. Golf gets more interesting when you takes a risk.”

Renowned golf writer Dog Pergurson, who watched the game on the day, said in awe, ˝I have never seen such as super shot at a women`s amateur championship.˝

She tied the match with an 8-foot birdie on the 14th, and the two players headed to the final 18 holes for a dramatic end.

It came down to the final two holes, and tension was high on the 17th. Nirapathpongporn chipped up the slope to 3 feet, while Wie`s putt from the back collar of the green stopped 3 feet short.

˝In the afternoon, I just didn`t make any putts,˝ Nirapathpongporn said. ˝Michelle played great. She was one shot better. That`s why she deserved to win, why she`s holding that big trophy.˝

Meanwhile, Wie, who has invited to six U.S. LPGA Tour championships this year and already played at Nabisco Championship and Chikfill A Charity Championship, will play at the Shop Light Classic opened on June 27 against pro golfers.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com