Originally created 01/17/04

Wie sets her sights on the weekend

HONOLULU -- Ernie Els and Michelle Wie - the Big Easy and the Big Wiesy - played a practice round earlier this week at the Sony Open and were both a couple of strokes under par.

The 14-year-old girl could only hope she could keep pace Friday with Els, the defending champion and winner of three majors.

Els, trying to become the first back-to-back winner at Waialae in 17 years, got into contention with a 6-under 64 that left him only two shots behind early leader Steve Allan of Australia.

Wie, coming off a respectable 2-over 72 in the first round, needed something close to that to make the cut.

Conditions were as ideal as possible for low scoring when Wie headed to the first tee Friday afternoon - low hanging clouds, hardly a trace of wind. The cut was expected to be at least 1 under par.

"If she makes it, that will be a lifetime achievement on this tour," Els said.

Wie, believed to be the youngest player ever on the PGA Tour, was in the last group of the day. Given her solid round Thursday, and the fact she lives only a few miles from the course, a large gallery already was gathering to see if the ninth-grader could become the first woman in 59 years to make a 36-hole cut on the PGA Tour.

Babe Zaharias, who qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open, made the 36-hole cut, but then was eliminated in third round after shooting a 76.

No woman competed on the PGA Tour again until Annika Sorenstam missed the cut at Colonial last year with rounds of 71-74, finishing 5 over par and five shots short of playing on the weekend.

Suzy Whaley, a Connecticut club pro, missed the cut by 13 shots at the Greater Hartford Open.

Wie started her round three shots from the cut line and 13 shots behind Allan, who capped off his bogey-free round with an eagle on the ninth hole for an 8-under 62.

Allan led by one shot over Harrison Frazar, who had a bogey-free 63.

Stuart Appleby of Australia won the season-opening Mercedes Championships last week, although Allan wouldn't say he's next in line - not yet, anyway.

"I feel like my game could get to that level," Allan said. "It's been improving slowly the last few years. Hopefully, I can continue. But to do that, I have to be up there a lot more often than once or twice a year."

Frazar is considered one of the best players who have not won on the PGA Tour, having played 160 tournaments in the six full years with two runner-up finishes.

Behind them is Els, who hit the ball nearly perfectly at Waialae and missed a half-dozen birdie chances inside 18 feet. Nothing hurt more than the 18th hole, where he missed from about 4 feet for birdie.

"The rust is coming off the game," he said.

Els then turned his attention to Wie, who impressed the Big Easy during their practice round Tuesday, and with her score in the opening round Thursday.

"I might sit in my hotel room and watch," Els said. "She's got a lot of work to do. But if she doesn't make it, so what?"


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