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Friday, July 22, 2005



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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michelle Wie hit an approach to the first green yesterday at the Evian Masters.



Wie way back
despite 70

The Honolulu teen improves by
five shots but still sits nine back
of the leaders

EVIAN, France» Michelle Wie shot a 2-under 70 at the Evian Masters yesterday, improving on her poor first round but not cutting into her nine-stroke deficit.

The Honolulu 15-year-old shot a 75 during Wednesday's opening round and sat nine shots back of the leaders.

After two rounds she still sits nine strokes back of the leaders -- Paula Creamer and Christina Kim, who both shot 68s yesterday to land at 136.

Annika Sorenstam shot a 6-under 66 to climb into contention. The world's top female golfer sits two strokes behind the leaders.

Sorenstam is alone in second at 6 under, with Laura Davies and Carin Koch another stroke back.

Davies shot 70 and Koch carded 73. Lorena Ochoa had a 69 and Karrie Webb shot 70, putting them four strokes behind.

Wie hit 10 of 14 fairways and got her driver under control, a big improvement after hitting just two fairways in the first round.

"I played great, but all my putts, strangely, didn't drop," Wie said.

"I played so much better than yesterday. I could have finished at 9 under."

Wie dropped just one shot and had three birdies, all from under 12 feet. At No. 9, her bunker shot for eagle rattled the flagstick but didn't drop.

She had her father, B.J., on the bag yesterday, after parting from experienced Irish caddie Brian Smallwood.

"Brian was with me Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but the chemistry didn't really work," Wie said.

She said her father would caddie for her during next week's British Open at Royal Birkdale.



art
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michelle Wie discussed a shot with her father/caddie B.J. Wie yesterday at the Evian Masters in France.



Wie has gone through several caddies during her short career.

"My caddie's not available," Sorenstam joked.

"It's important to have a regular caddie," the Swede added. "I've been lucky to have only two in 11 years. A caddie has to learn to adjust to you. If he only gets 24 hours to do it, that's pretty hard."

Sorenstam had seven birdies -- her longest putt was 11 feet -- and dropped only one shot when she was caught between clubs and hit a pitching wedge into a greenside bunker at the 10th.

"Yesterday I walked off feeling I'd left some shots out there," Sorenstam said. "Today I felt I converted most of them.

"Yesterday, I couldn't feel comfortable over the putter, I thought the greens were very bumpy. Today, I had a tee time about an hour and 15 minutes earlier. The conditions were a lot better, less people walking around on the greens. I think that was important for me because I started to roll in some putts and I felt a lot better."

The 18-year-old Creamer made seven birdies and had three bogeys, while Kim had five birdies. Both are hoping to qualify for the U.S. Solheim Cup squad, which will be picked on Aug. 28. Ten players qualify on points, and two are captain's picks.

Kim is fifth in the points standings and Creamer is 13th.

"I've wanted to be in the Solheim from before I hit my first ball as a pro," Creamer said.

Marisa Baena, who shared the first-round lead with Koch and Lynnette Brooky, had a 75 to fall five off the lead. Brooky slumped to an 80.


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13-year-old Kim loses to
former U.S. junior champ

EAGLE, Idaho » Kimberly Kim of Hilo showed loads of potential this week before bowing out of the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship in the round of 16.

In-Bee Park of Las Vegas, the 2002 champion, posted a 3-and-1 victory over Kim yesterday at BanBury Golf Club. Park later advanced to the semifinals.

Kim, 13, reached match play for the first time and lasted the longest of four Hawaii girls who made it to Idaho.

"I just wanted to make the cut, really, that's all," Kim said, "and I won (two) matches."

She impressed Park with her consistent 250-yard drives and her composure. Kim dropped a 22-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to extend the match.

She missed a 15-footer for birdie on No. 17 that might have pushed the match to No. 18.

"She hit the ball pretty far," Park said. "I guess the Hawaiian people hit the ball far. She is a really good player. If she experiences a little more, I think she's going to be a good player."

Kim fell 3-down on the front nine. She cut the deficit to 2-down with a nice up-and-down for par on No. 14, but missed a 6-footer for par on No. 15 to slip 3-down again.

She blamed her putting, including three lipouts, for the loss.

Still, she enjoyed going toe to toe with a premier player. Park has asked the LPGA Tour to allow her to enter qualifying school this fall.

Kim smiled, flashing her braces, and laughed throughout her round.

"It was kind of fun because she's so good, and I just wanted to play at least 16 holes," Kim said. "I played OK."

Kim will play in an American Junior Golf Association tournament in Pennsylvania next week to end a lengthy but productive stay on the mainland.

She finished 16th in the Rolex Tournament of Champions, tied for sixth in the Westfield Junior PGA Championship and reached the round of 16 here.

Kim has visited the mainland for about a month every summer since she was 8 to test her golf game. She won her age division twice at Junior World, she said.

"I like to play," she said, "but I don't really like airplanes."

And what does she like most?

"Winning," she said.

It didn't happen this year, but she has plenty more chances.

Morgan Pressel, however, will never win the Girls' Junior. The 17-year-old star from Florida lost in 19 holes in the third round yesterday.

Pressel was 2-up with two to play, but Juliana Murcia Ortiz of Colombia birdied No. 17, Pressel hit into the water on No. 18 and Ortiz chipped in from 40 feet on No. 1 for the win.

"I hit the worst shot of my life," Pressel said of her errant 5-wood on No. 18.

Ortiz later advanced to the semifinals, where she will face In-Kyung Kim of Korea. Joanne Lee of San Carlos, Calif., gets Park in the other semifinal.



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