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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, July 7, 2000



Wie wowed ’em at
U.S. publinx

See also today's story

SO she lost her first-round match yesterday. Michelle Wie, the 10-year-old golfing sensation from Honolulu, still created quite a stir by being the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women's Public Links Championship in Aberdeen, N.C.

That she qualified for the 64-player field in the match-play competition was quite an accomplishment. It's something no one can take away from her. And something she can put in her resume, which will only get bigger as she gets bigger - and older.

It's no excuse, but the weather delay, which caused Michelle to finish her qualifying round before playing her first-round match on the same day, had to be a factor.

When she qualified at Ala Wai a month ago to represent Hawaii, everyone was asking who's this 10-year-old kid?

Olomana teaching pro Casey Nakama, said at the time, "She's a phenom. There's no high school girl in Hawaii who can hit the ball longer than her."

Sure, Casey I thought at the time. After all, she's one of your junior golf students. You have to be a bit prejudiced.

Sonofagun if Nakama wasn't kidding.

The kid's the real deal.

The last youngster locally to grab anyone's attention was a 12-year-old named Grace Park. Look at her now. She's 12th on the LPGA money list and a virtual shoe-in to win rookie-of-the-year honors.

You're going to hear a lot of young Michelle Wie in the years to come. She'll be attending Punahou School as a seventh-grader this fall.

The U.S. publinx is a championship tournament for players who aren't members of private country clubs.

Whether Wie's parents -- father Byung Wook and mother Hyun Kyong -- will be invited to join Waialae or the Oahu Country Club anytime soon, figure on Michelle continuing to play in future Publinx tournaments.

Of course, the cost will be prohibitive. The airfare to North Carolina for Michelle and her parents cost $4,800.

"It's expensive, but my parents and I think it's worth it," Wie said.

The publicity was well worth it, and it would be nice if the state helped kick in some money to defray the Wie family's costs. After all, the state of Hawaii benefited immensely from the publicity.

Meanwhile, watch Kauai's Rachel Kyono, 16, who along with Hilo's Leah Whiting, were two of the six Hawaii qualifiers who advanced to the second round with victories yesterday.

Kyono's another future star.



The date of the HSWGA Stroke Play Championship has been changed to Aug. 1-3 at the Mid-Pacific Country Club.

Anna Umemura, who won the HSWGA Match Play Championship last week at the Oahu Country Club, will be one of the favorites along with 2000 Jennie K. champion Bobbie Kokx, Kathy Cho and Bev Kim.

More entries are needed, accorded to Kathy Ordway, tournament coordinator. The cost is $100 plus cart fee.

Those interested, including golfers belonging to the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association, can email or telephone Ordway at 262-2428.



The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course will dedicate its new driving range tomorrow morning at 8.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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