Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Wie just wants to have fun in latest PGA bid

AGENCIES , CHICAGO

Michelle Wie of Honolulu, left, talks to her mother, Bo Wie, on the 18th hole during the pro-am competition at the John Deere Classic golf tournament on Wednesday in Silvis, Illinois.

PHOTO: AP

Michelle Wie plans to have as much as fun as she can in her latest bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour men's event.

The 16-year-old schoolgirl is the top attraction at this week's John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, but refuses to be distracted by lofty public expectation.

"I guess being from Hawaii, I'm very relaxed," Wie told reporters as she prepared for yesterday's opening round at the Tournament Players Club at Deere Run.

"I have kind of a `whatever' mentality. I just have fun with it. I'm very grateful and I feel very lucky that people like watching me play. I have a lot of fans and I think that's wonderful," she said.

Wie, vying with the men for the ninth time in a professional event, launched her bid to become the first woman to make a PGA Tour cut in 61 years yesterday.

The Hawaiian prodigy was to tee off on the 10th hole in the company of American Jeff Gove and Daisuke Maruyama of Japan.

Although Wie finally made the cut in a men's tournament at the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open in May, she has set her sights on qualifying for the weekend on the world's most competitive tour.

She feels very comfortable on the par-71 Deere Run layout, having missed the cut by just two strokes last year after rounds of 70 and 71.

"Obviously, I feel more comfortable with my game and more confident with my game. I'm just going to try my hardest and ... see what happens," Wie said.

A year ago, Wie made the turn at 4 under on the second day. But she double bogeyed her 15th hole and bogeyed her 16th, finished at 1 under 141 and missed the cut by two strokes.

Wie isn't the only story at the John Deere.

There's Chris DiMarco, reeling from the death of his mother last week while trying to boost his Ryder Cup standing.

"I want to get back out there, get that feeling of having a chance to win," said DiMarco, whose last win on the tour was in Phoenix four years ago.

"I'd certainly love to have that chance to win here. With her at my side, it would be great," he said.

"My game is back; it's just a matter of getting it in now," said DiMarco, who injured his ribs while skiing in March.

"As far as hitting the ball, I really feel like I'm there again," he said.

There's Camilo Villegas, a contender for rookie of the year with two ties for second place and one for third. He also was one of People magazine's "hottest bachelors."

"The bottom line is you've got to play good golf," the Colombian said.

"You've got to remember why you're here, and you've got to stick to your routine. It's impossible to make everybody happy," Villegas said.

There's David Duval, who hasn't won on the US PGA Tour since the 2001 British Open. His highest finish this year is 16th at the US. Open -- a tournament he felt he could have won had a few more putts gone in.

"I just had a couple of stretches of holes that kind of took me out of it," he said.

And there's Wie, taking another swing at history and bringing attention to an event that would otherwise be obscured by the upcoming British Open. She's a year older, more mature.

Wie missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, but made it the last time she played the men, finishing 12 shots off the lead at the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open.

She has had close calls on the women's tour, where she is searching for her first victory. She finished in the top five at all three majors this year, missing a 10-foot putt on the final hole of the Nabisco Championship that would have put her in a playoff.

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