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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fans rally to support Wie's charge

 •  Wie's big rally falls short

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's Michelle Wie signs autographs for the gallery that gathered during her final round at Ko Olina Golf Club.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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KAPOLEI Six-year-old Lauren Miguel clutched an "I Mua Michelle" button in her left hand, hoping to catch a glimpse of 16-year-old Michelle Wie through throngs of people who surrounded the teenager after she made her way off the golf course.

But all that was visible was the top of Wie's bright pink cap as she was whisked away following her final round of the LPGA's Fields Open in Hawai'i at the Ko Olina Golf Club yesterday.

"That's who we came to see," said Lauren's mother, Lolita Miguel, 37, of Mililani, as Lauren nodded emphatically next to her.

The Miguels, which included Lolita, her husband Leon, Lauren and son Leighton, who will be 2 in May, were part of thousands who showed up at Ko Olina to see if Wie could capture her first pro tournament.

Wie finished in third, shooting 6-under-par 66 yesterday.

"She did good," said Leon Miguel, who has been golfing for about 10 years. "If a few putts went in for her, she would have won the tournament. But that's how it goes."

Although it was Leon and Lauren who most wanted to see Wie, it was Lolita who walked away with a story.

A ball hit by golfer Sherri Turner, who was in Wie's group, hit Lolita on her left hip.

"We saved her a shot, we kept it in play," Leon said. "(Lolita) did anyway."

Lolita, who thought she was hit while on the 14th hole, said she was trying to protect Lauren and didn't see the ball coming, but saw all the spectators move out of the way.

Turner ended up getting par on the par-5 hole.

Like the Miguels, who were watching their first professional golf tournament, Eddie Viloria, 54, of Waipahu, attended the tournament to see Wie.

"She's Hawai'i's rising star," the director of safety and security at the Pagoda Hotel said. "She held her own. I couldn't even tell she had any pressure on her."

Viloria, who has been golfing for four years, was joined by her brother Ernest Viloria and sister-in-law Jean Viloria.

"I thought the gallery would be less," Eddie Viloria said. "I was surprised. But I guess everyone came out and supported her."

A fan of Wie not from Hawai'i was 13-year-old Zach Wexman, from Mill Valley, Calif., whose family is vacationing in Hawai'i for a week, and coincidentally were staying at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina during the tournament.

Wexman, a junior golfer, said he admired her "drive on the 18" and "her shot out to the green on the 18th hole."

Wexman, who wore a Stanford baseball cap the school Wie has said she would like to attend also likes her smooth swing, which he said is "nice and compact. I like the way she plays the game and her style."

Lynn Murata, 60, of Kane'ohe, is such a fan of Wie that "we even went to the Punahou Carnival to see her."

Murata, who was joined by her husband Mel Murata and brother Wes Warashina, said they escaped the gallery crowd by skipping ahead to holes "where we thought she would do well."

She attends many professional golf tournaments in Hawai'i, and noticed an increase of new fans in Wie's gallery yesterday.

"I'm happy to see the big crowd," she said. "Today I was noticing people who I don't think are golfers. You can tell when you hear them talking, or what they are wearing. It's wonderful to see people come out to watch her.

"She's a Hawai'i girl, so we're here to cheer her on. She did well."

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com.