Friday, June 20, 2003

[ GOLF ]

Michelle Wie beat Jane Rah in the first round of match play at the Women's Amateur Public Links Championship yesterday.

Wie advances, gets
rematch from last year

All four golfers from Hawaii
move on to the round of 32

PALM COAST, Fla. >> Thirteen-year-old Punahou student Michelle Wie, stroke-play medalist Virada Nirapathpongporn and defending champion Annie Thurman won first-round matches yesterday in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Wie was 3 up at the turn over Jane Rah of Torrance, Calif., but didn't close the match until the 17th hole, winning 2 and 1.

Wie, who has played in four LPGA events in the last two years and has qualified for this summer's U.S. Women's Open and Women's Amateur, will get a rematch of last year's Public Links semifinal today, with a second-round match against Hwanhee Lee. Lee defeated Wie 3 and 2 last year at the Sunriver Resort in Oregon, then lost 6 and 5 to Thurman in the championship match.

"It's going to be a completely different day," said Wie, who is playing in the Public Links for the fourth consecutive year, having qualified in 2000 as a 10-year-old. "Anything can happen."

Also, Mari Chun of Pearl City beat Cindy Skilton of Paoli, Pa., 7 and 5; Amanda Wilson of Hilo beat Charmaine Erasmus of South Africa, 5 and 4; and Stephanie Kono of Honolulu beat Ashley Grier of Hagerstown, Md., 4 and 3.

Thurman, an incoming junior at Oklahoma State and last year's Public Links champion, defeated Courtney Mahon of Topeka, Kan., 2 and 1.

Thurman said she doesn't mind Wie getting the bulk of media and fan attention so far in the tournament. With her 300-yard drives and ability to reach the green from almost any lie, Wie has been attracting galleries of over 100 people, rare for a USGA event such as the Women's Public Links.

"I came out of nowhere to win it last year," Thurman said. "The lack of attention doesn't bother me."

Nirapathpongporn, a rising senior at Duke, was 2 down after three holes to 64th-seeded Carling Cho of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., but rallied to win 3 and 2. Nirapathpongporn earned medalist honors Wednesday by completing 36 holes at the Ocean Hammock Golf Club in 3-under 141.

Lee, a rising junior at UNLV, defeated Jessica Castle of Plantation, Fla., 6 and 5, in her first-round match.

Other first-round winners included defending U.S. Women's Amateur champion Becky Lucidi of Poway, Calif., who beat Courtney Clark of Del Rey Oaks, Calif., 6 and 5; and Southeastern Conference champion Aimee Cho of Orlando, Fla., who cruised to a 7 and 6 victory over Lynsey Myers of Ogden, Utah.

The second and third rounds will be played today. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for tomorrow and the 36-hole championship will be Sunday.


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