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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 4, 2006

Wie fires 2-under-par 70 in first round

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Michelle Wie acknowledges the gallery after a putt in the first round of the SK Telecom Open.

LEE JIN-MAN | Associated Press

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Michelle Wie watches her tee shot on the sixth hole of the SK Telecom Open.

LEE JIN-MAN | Associated Press

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Michelle Wie putted well today during a first-round, 2-under-par 70 at the SK Telecom Open, remaining in contention for making her first cut at a men's tournament.

The Honolulu teenager was five strokes behind the early leader, Australia's Adam Le Vesconte, who shot a 65 at Incheon, South Korea, just outside of Seoul. Malaysia's Iain Steel, Lee Sung-ho of South Korea and Australian Brad Kennedy both carded 67s in the opening round.

Wie was in a large group at 70, with several golfers still on the course. The first round did not finish until after the deadline for The Advertiser.

Wie got a good start after teeing off from the back nine in mild, early-morning conditions at the Sky 72 Golf Club by birdieing the 10th.

She went on to make three more birdies, including two after the turn on Nos. 1 and 2.

Wie blamed her approach shots for not going lower.

"I just got really bad lies, like on the 16th I had a really bad lie and on the par-5 18th," the 16-year-old said. "So it was just kind of bad luck on the chips, but I felt like I putted very well coming back."

Wie's two bogeys of the day were also unlucky.

After her tee shot on the par-4 17th nestled beside a rake which had to be removed Wie miscued her approach to send the ball rolling down a hill and into a water hazard.

Her penalty drop was placed on the slope and she deftly chipped to within 2 feet to salvage bogey.

Wie hit into a bunker on the par-5 6th, then saw her 15-foot putt roll to the lip of the cup before it ran out of steam, drawing sighs from the 300-plus gallery of mostly Koreans.

Wie is making her eighth attempt at making a cut in a men's tournament.

The cut which will eliminate more than half of the 150-player field will be made after the second round, scheduled for tomorrow in Korea, which is 19 hours ahead of Hawai'i.

The top 60 professionals and amateurs after the second round, including ties, will advance to the final two rounds.

Wie, who in March finished third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major, has South Korean parents and has been adopted by South Korean fans as their own.

If she makes the cut after tomorrow's second round, she will be the second woman to do so at a Korean tournament.

LPGA star Se Ri Pak finished tied for 10th at the KPGA Tour's SBS Pro-Golf Championship in 2003.

The $600,000 SK Telecom Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

In her most recent attempt in the Sony Open in Hawai'i in January, Wie missed the cut by four shots despite shooting a 68 the second day.

No woman has made the cut on the PGA Tour since Babe Zaharias in 1945.

Wie last visited South Korea in 2003 to compete in the LPGA's CJ Nine Bridges Classic, where she finished last in the field as a 14-year-old amateur.

South Korea's K.J. Choi, who regularly competes on the PGA Tour, won the SK Telecom Open in 2005 for the second time in three years, beating Fred Couples by five strokes at Il Dong Lakes. He shot opened with a 68.

Le Vesconte, the early leader, has made the cut just once in eight events this year on the Asian Tour. He finished tied for 67th at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

In 2005, Le Vesconte won the Philippine Open for his sole victory on the Asian Tour. He has also won in Australia, capturing the S.W. Open in 1999 and 2001.

The Associated Press and http://golf.sktelecom.com contributed to this report.