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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 9, 2004

Wie shoots 73 in gusty conditions, trails by six

By Arthur Utley
Special to The Advertiser


7 a.m.


Honolulu's Michelle Wie reacts to missing a birdie attempt on the sixth hole at the Kingsmill Resort's River Course. She finished 2 over yesterday and is 1 under entering the final round.

Associated Press photos

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The fun continued for Michelle Wie in the third round of the $2.2 million Michelob Ultra Open. It just took a different path from the previous day.

Wie, the only amateur in the field, followed up a bogey-free second round with the adventurous approach yesterday. She missed 10 greens in regulation, but scrambled to a 2-over-par 73 on Kingsmill Resort's 6,270-yard River Course.

"You are living life on the edge. It's like saving yourself from the mouth of an alligator every time and it's pretty fun. I'd rather be away from the alligator, but saving myself is fun, too," Wie said.

Such is the imagination of a 14-year-old, who thought of alligators while looking out the window of the media center at a lake and the white-capped James River.

Wie is tied for 16th with a 54-hole total of 1-under 212. She begins today's final round six strokes behind co-leaders Lorena Ochoa and Cristie Kerr, who are at 7-under. Ochoa posted the low round of the day, a 3-under par 68. Kerr carded a 70. Christina Kim (73) is two off the lead at 5 under. Last week's winner, Jennifer Rosales (73), and 36-hole leader Kim Williams (78) are at 4 under.

Ochoa and Kerr, who tied for second with Karrie Webb in this event a year ago, were two of only five players to post under-par scores yesterday. The brilliant sunshine and temperature in the upper 60s were delightful. The blustery, gusting winds were not. Sustained wind speeds were 15 to 20 miles per hour with gusts of more than 20 mph.

For Wie, the wind wasn't bad.

"It's just that it's swirling. So one second it's like that and one second it's like that, and I was picking up the grass and throwing it and it was coming down like this (she indicated swirling like a string of S's). I would be like, that doesn't tell me anything," she said.

Co-leader Cristie Kerr gets advice from caddie Worth Blackwelder on the 16th green during her round of 70.

Lorena Ochoa chips to the 16th green. Ochoa shot a 68 and is tied for the lead with Kerr at 7 under par at the Michelob Ultra Open entering today's final round.
"I wasn't hitting the ball good all day. My shots were really bad at first, but then I kind of got my rhythm back on my tee shots. I don't know what happened on my second shots. It was just bad. I could have shot worse, but I had a really good short game and putted well today.

"I actually like tough days like this. If you just keep making pars, you keep moving up and you don't have to shoot a ridiculous number just to catch the leader."

Ochoa started yesterday's round at 4-under, seven strokes behind Williams. She birdied both par 3s on the front nine and the par-5 seventh to make the turn at 7 under. Ochoa, of Guadalajara, Mexico, offset two bogeys with two birdies on the back nine. She stared at bogey on the final hole after hitting her second shot in a bunker, but she rolled home a 40-foot par-saving putt.

"I think that putt could be key for this tournament," Ochoa said. "That one stroke ... I leave with a different attitude. I come (today) all excited and keep going with good emotions."

Ochoa, last year's LPGA rookie of the year, is seeking her first victory and says she is prepared to win.

"This year I feel more comfortable than I did last year. I think I matured a lot inside and outside of the course," she said. "I am just going to try to keep knocking on the door."

Kerr, 26, won three weeks ago at the Takefuji Classic in a seven-hole playoff. She had a one-stroke lead yesterday when she hit her tee shot on 18th hole. She confidently picked up her tee and didn't see the ball bound hard left and into the lake that guards the left side of the hole.

"I thought I hit a perfect drive. The wind just got it or I got a gust or something and it didn't stay up," she said. "I shot 1 under on the day, but I made up five shots to be tied for the lead. I am pleased with my position going into tomorrow."

Kim, 20, also is seeking her first victory and will be the third member of the final group.

"Being able to say that I am going to play in the final group with Cristie and Lorena is going to be awesome," Kim said. "They are two of my favorite players out here. We're all good friends, so I think it's going to help me out a lot."