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Sunday, August 22, 2004



[ LPGA WENDY'S CHAMPIONSHIP ]


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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michelle Wie reacted after missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the third round yesterday.


Wie overcomes bad hole
to shoot 1 under


DUBLIN, Ohio » Michelle Wie had a disastrous hole nearly halfway through her third round yesterday at the Wendy's Championship for Children tournament.

But the 14-year old rebounded with the poise of a professional to gain a pair of strokes heading into the final day of the LPGA event.

Wie quadruple bogeyed her eighth hole yesterday at Tartan Fields, but finished with a flurry of birdies for a 1-under 71. She enters today's final round with a three-round total of 213, five shots behind defending champion Hee-Won Han.

Wie and her playing partners, Paula Creamer and Kelli Kuehne, started the day seven shots behind Han.

Kuehne also finished with a 71, although it could have been a lot better if not for her putting woes. Creamer, the 17-year old amateur who has shared the spotlight with Wie this week, struggled all day, finishing with a 75. She's tied for 35th at 1 over.

Creamer was near tears several times during her round.

"Today I learned a lot about myself," Creamer said. "I started off bad. I think my mental attitude and my physical appearance, showing my upsetness, didn't help me at all out there.

"I learned a lot about composure now, more than I think I will in any other golf tournament."

Wie never noticed her rival's troubles despite playing in the same group with Creamer for the first time in her LPGA career.

"We had a great time out there. We were talking a lot," Wie said. "I don't really consider her a real rival. I don't think about that. I know people put us together and try to make a rivalry out of it, but we're just two people trying to play golf."

Wie started on the back nine and birdied No. 11 to go to 3 under. She missed a birdie putt on 13, and was still 3 under when trouble struck at 17, which has a lake between the tee and the green.

Wie hit her first two tee shots into the water, and finally got onto the green with her third shot. She then two-putted for a 7.

The 14-year old went from 3 under to 1 over in a span of a couple minutes.

But she wasn't done for the day, as she settled down and played her best golf of the week over the final six holes.

Wie birdied 4, missed a birdie putt on 6, then closed out her round with three straight birdies.

If Wie had managed to par 17, as she did on Thursday, she'd be at 7 under, playing in the final group. And if she'd birdied it, like she did Friday, she'd be tied atop the leaderboard.

But as it is, she'll start today's round five shots behind Han.

Han shot an even-par 72 yesterday for a 208 total, three strokes ahead of a group of five. Second-round leader Suzann Pettersen is in that group, as well as Laura Diaz, Marilyn Lovander, Mi Hyun Kim and Catriona Matthew.

"It was a little bit wet, but pretty good," said Han, who is going for her third win on the LPGA Tour.

Keuhne said the greens dried out a lot between her practice round and when the group teed off at 3:11 p.m. She was visibly upset with her putting throughout the day, and went straight to the practice green after her round, staying there until it was too dark to see.

"I've got to putt a little better, obviously that's kind of where my problem is,"Keuhne said. "I've been hitting it well enough to shoot really low so if I can just get my putter working I'll be in good shape."

Creamer also had trouble putting, but was more concerned with the mental side of her game. She said now is the time for her to learn these lessons, since there isn't any money at stake.

"My putting wasn't really up to my standards. I had two or three three-putts. I hit the ball well but just never got the speed of the greens," she said. "But it was more my behavior out there that wasn't what it should have been."

Wie's best finish in an LPGA event is fourth place, and Creamer finished second earlier this year.


Ladies Professional Golf Association
www.lpga.com

Wendy's Championship for Children
www.wendyschampionship.com

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