Punahou's Michelle Wie teed off at No. 4 yesterday in a first-round match vs. Brooke Goodwin at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Kono, Wie, Wise

Wie wins despite struggles with her
short game in her bid to repeat

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. » Defending champion Michelle Wie is still a club away from being on top of her game. It hasn't mattered yet for the 14-year-old in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Wie overcame a still-shaky putter with solid iron play in a 3-and-1 victory against Brooke Goodwin of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., in yesterday's opening round of match play.

"I didn't miss a green today," Wie said. "If my putts fell today ... it would have been an easier match, but none of my putts fell."

Wie was among three Hawaii golfers who advanced to today's play.

No. 4 qualifier Stephanie Kono, like Wie a 14-year-old from Punahou School, beat Stephanie Godare of Houston 5 and 3. Kauai High School graduate Lehua Wise of Lihue, the No. 41 qualifier, upset No. 24 Hoi Ning Eva Yoe of China 3 and 2.

The field of 64 was halved by the first round, with two more rounds slated for today on the 6,159-yard Green Course at Golden Horseshoe.

Two more rounds will be held tomorrow, with a 36-hole final on Sunday.

Wie plays Melissa Martin of Altadena, Calif., this morning. Kono faces Hannah Jun of San Diego and Wise plays 15-year-old In-Bee Park of Eustis, Fla.

If they continue winning, Kono and Wise could meet in the semifinals. Wie is on the opposite side of the bracket.

Only California has more representation than Hawaii in the field's final 32 with nine players still alive.

Wie led 4-up after 12 holes, saw her lead cut in half and then clinched it on the 17th hole before playing the last with her parents.

"Going down the fairway and relaxing felt really good," she said.

Wie could have put her match against the left-handed Goodwin away much earlier, but her inability to make putts and Goodwin's scrambling to overcome a huge length disadvantage kept it close almost to the end.

At the par-3 17th, Wie two-putted from 36 feet to close it out. It was only the fifth hole the 6-footer won, and the third by two-putting.

"I was rolling the ball really well today. It was just a matter of time before they started dropping," she said. "I got really frustrated after missing some putts because I knew I should have made them."

As the favorite to repeat and the player drawing the largest galleries by far, Wie is still waiting to put together a lights-out 18 holes.

"This whole week has tested my patience," she said. "If you're out there in match play and things don't start to drop and you start getting worried, that's when your mentality starts to fall apart."

Park pulled off the biggest comeback of the day. She was four down to Tiffany Tavee of Gilbert, Ariz., after four holes, then rallied to win, using a chip to within a foot and a birdie putt to complete her big comeback.

Park started her match with a bogey -- the only one for either player all day -- while Tavee started with five consecutive birdies. Park matched the birdie on the fifth hole, then began fighting her way back.

Tavee finished with 13 consecutive pars, and Park -- a semifinalist in the U.S. Women's Amateur last year -- used birdies at Nos. 9, 10, 15 and 16 to set up the dramatic ending on the 18th hole.

Medalist Brittany Lang beat Amber Jean Kuss of Koontz Lake, Ind., 5 and 4.

Lang, whose 7-under-par 135 in qualifying broke the tournament record by two shots, made two putts from 25 feet and one from 20 in her win.

"Number 7 was definitely the turning point," the McKinney, Texas, native said. "I got off to a fair start but nothing dropped for me."

Other notable winners were No. 2 qualifier Jenna Pearson of Wheaton, Ill., 3 and 2 against Kansas Gooden of Harrisonburg, Va.; and Jane Park of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a teammate of Wie and Lang on the U.S. Curtis Cup team that beat Britain and Ireland at Formby, England, on June 13.

The biggest upset was pulled off by Brianna Broderick of Richmond, Mo., who defeated No. 3 qualifier Courtney Mahon of Topeka, Kan., 1-up.

Mackinzie Kline of Encinitas, Calif., the youngest qualifier for match play at age 12, used a birdie from 10 feet on No. 17 to get within one of Gabby Wedding of Wilmington, Ohio, then missed another to tie on No. 18.

"It was really fun. I took it to the 18th hole," Kline said after her 1-up loss. "I made my goal, and it was a good learning experience."


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