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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Not a cut above rest, to Pressel

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

So, just how big was Michelle Wie making the cut last week in a men's Asian Tour SK Open in South Korea?

Not all that, yawn, huge of a deal to hear Morgan Pressel tell it.

Forget all history that it made, the headlines and considerable "Wie Wave" it generated in Korea. Apparently, plenty of the players on the LPGA Tour could do it, if they really wanted to, Pressel maintains.

Asked about the consensus feeling about Wie's accomplishment, Pressel told the media yesterday at the Michelob ULTRA Open in Williamsburg, Va.: "I don't know what the feel is. It's not something that's really talked about much in the locker room but I'm sure there are many girls that could go out there and make a cut or so in the men's event, they just don't wish to do that."

The last time we saw Pressel in these parts, the Fields Open at Ko Olina in February, she used darned near a whole box of tissue to soak up the frustration of her 11th-place finish. Apparently, she's feeling a lot more feisty this week.

It is moments like these, when she shoots from the lip, that it is hard not to like Pressel and the edge she brings to the LPGA. Even when she is wrong.

If more LPGA players could make the cuts on men's tours, whether it be the Asian, European or some other, you'd see them lining up to take their whacks and pick up their money. You'd also see more tournaments issuing sponsor's exemptions to trade in on the spectacle.

The buzz that Annika Sorenstam brought to Colonial and Wie supplied at John Deere, Sony and SK is something few tournament directors or sponsors could turn down. For sure the in-box on Team Wie's e-mail account hasn't lacked for offers.

The fact is Wie has been one-of-a-kind to this point. Somebody capable of being competitive with the men and grabbing the imaginations across genders and age groups. And she has been adroitly marketed to fill that niche as the sponsorships, including a $3 million deal with a Korean developer announced just yesterday, suggest.

Of course, Pressel probably won points and a few "you tell her, girl!" pats on the back within the LPGA Tour, where the wish has been that Wie would also confine her focus. For with Wie comes a spotlight and riches that benefit all.

As for Pressel, the Floridian said, "Personally, as of right now, I wish to concentrate on the ladies tour and play as well as I can out here. Maybe sometime, down the road, I wouldn't rule it out, but it's unlikely that I would ever play in a men's event."

Whether you agree with her, Pressel has carved out her own niche as the anti-Michelle. Two players coasts apart in so many ways. As long as Pressel speaks her mind, accentuating the differences between the two, she fans the flames of a compelling rivalry.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.