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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2004

Sorenstam stands firm; Wie struggles

By Joanna Whitley
Special to The Advertiser

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. — On a day when high winds and hard greens put pars at a premium at the Safeway International, Honolulu's Michelle Wie struggled to a 5-over-par 77 yesterday to finish tied for 19th at two under par, 16 shots behind winner Annika Sorenstam.

"Nothing was working at all today," Michelle Wie, hitting an iron on the first hole, said after closing with a 77 yesterday.

Associated Press

"Nothing was working at all today. I mean, absolutely nothing," said Wie, who started the day in ninth place. "The first three days, at least my long game was OK and my putting was pretty jacked, but today nothing worked for me. ... It could have been a lot worse."

Wie had four bogeys on the front nine, one on the back and no birdies. The 14-year-old had 33 putts and hit six fairways and nine greens.

Wie wasn't the only player beat up by Superstition Mountain's 6,620-yard layout. The field averaged 76.6 in the final round, almost four shots higher than any other day. Only four players had rounds under par yesterday — Becky Morgan, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Cristie Kerr and Sorenstam.

Sorenstam led from wire to wire in winning her 49th LPGA title by four shots. Shi Hyun Ahn, a 19-year-old Korean rookie, was one shot back after four holes. But a two-shot swing on the par-4 fifth hole — Ahn bogeyed while Sorenstam birdied — put the unflappable Swede ahead for good.

Annika Sorenstam

Michelle Wie
Sorenstam teed off on the final hole with a three-shot advantage over Kerr and drained a 25-footer on the par-5 hole to finish at 18-under 270.

Kerr finished in second at 274 while Lorena Ochoa and Grace Park tied for third at 11-under 277. Ahn fired 77 to finish tied with Se-Ri Pak in fifth place at 279.

Laura Davies was tied with Ochoa and Park until Davies hit two balls out of bounds on the final hole and made a nine for a final-round 76 and a seventh place finish at 7-under 281.

"The wind was strong all day long and it made the course so different and, I thought, so much tougher," said Sorenstam, who earned $180,000. "The course dried out, the greens were firmer and it seemed like they rolled much faster.

"It tests your ability to hit the shots, ability to putt, but most of all your patience, really."

Putting was something Wie struggled with all week. The first two rounds she missed putts short. On the weekend, she hit everything past the hole, but couldn't get anything to fall.

For the week, Wie had 122 putts, 11 more than Sorenstam.

"I hit the worst putts all day. ... It's been a long time since I've played on fast greens," Wie said. "This week is a warm up for next week."

After a bit of shopping in Phoenix, Wie will head to Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the Nabisco Championship. The LGPA's first major of the season starts Thursday. She is one of six amateurs to earn a sponsor's exemption. Last year the then-13 year-old finished in ninth place, her best LPGA showing so far.