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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Michigan man carves Wie in wood

By Carol Hopkins
Oakland (Mich.) Press via AP

Heiner Hertling carved his sculpture of golfer Michelle Wie from a dying oak tree at the Dunham Hills Golf Club in Hartland, Mich.

TIM THOMPSON | Oakland (Mich.) Press

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HARTLAND, Mich. Michelle Wie the 16-year-old golfing sensation from Hawai'i is being honored locally in a big way. An 8-foot wooden sculpture of Wie now stands in front of Hartland's Dunham Hills Golf Club, carved by Milford sculptor Heiner Hertling from an oak tree that stood on the site.

This is the third oak tree sculpture Hertling has created for the golf club.

This time, he said: "I wanted to do something ... more feminine."

Wie is positioned looking toward the seventh green, her club swung back around her head as though she has just completed a powerful drive.

Because he didn't have the live version of the 6-foot-tall Wie, he used a photograph of her swinging a club.

The carved Wie is wearing long pants and a shirt. Her ponytailed hair is pulled back through the golf cap. It took Hertling two weeks to carve Wie from the dying tree, which otherwise would have been taken down by the club.

Wie's long, skinny club was carved separately from wood Hertling had at home.

He started his artwork by creating a scale model of Wie from foam. He then measured key places, such as Wie's waistline, and attached clumps of clay to the model to make it more in the shape of a cube.

He came up with the backward methodology so he could see how and where he would have to make the first major cuts with a chain saw.

"I wondered if this was how Michelangelo did his work in marble," he mused.

Hertling used a large gasoline-powered chain saw to do the first large cuts, he said. He also used a smaller electric chain saw and a fiberglass wheel to smooth the rough spots. He carved the facial features with chisels.

An avid golfer who shoots in the low 90s, Hertling, 66, traded his sculpting talent for a chance to play at Dunham Hills for no charge.

About two years ago, the staff at Dunham Hills asked if he might sculpt the words "Dunham Hills" out of two old oak trees that were dying near the clubhouse.

"I told them I could do something better than that," he said. So he carved a young caddy and Scottish golfer dressed in turn-of-the-century clothes.

While his other two wood sculptures have cracked a bit as weather causes them to expand and contract, Hertling sounds hopeful about his Michelle Wie.

He glanced toward the statue and said, "Hopefully, she will last 20 years."

HANNEMANN IS WIE'S OPENING OPPONENT

U.S. Women's Open champion Annika Sorenstam will face Virada Nirapathpongporn Thursday in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship at Gladstone, N.J., while Michelle Wie will open against Candy Hannemann in the other half of the draw.

Sorenstam, the top seed in the $2 million event, won her third U.S. Women's Open title yesterday, beating Pat Hurst 70-74 in an 18-hole playoff at Newport Country Club. The Swede planned to take today off, then play in the pro-am round tomorrow. Nirapathpongporn is seeded 64th.

Wie, coming off a third-place tie in Women's Open, earned the second seed as the No. 2 player in the world rankings.

She will face the 63rd-seeded Hannemann, a 26-year-old Brazilian. Hannemann starred at Duke, winning the 2001 NCAA individual title.

Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, the No. 3 seed, will open against No. 62 Il Mi Chung, fourth-seeded Karrie Webb will face No. 61 Nancy Scranton, and No. 5 Paula Creamer will meet No. 60 Miriam Nagl.

No. 13 Hurst will open against No. 52 Reilley Rankin.