Originally created 05/10/04

Wie impresses in Kingsmill debut



WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Michelle Wie's group was easy to find throughout the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill: Just follow the huge crowds scrambling to be in position for each shot the 14-year-old made.

The graceful 6-foot amateur took it all in stride, largely because it has been like that for each of her 13 appearances on the LPGA Tour.

"Certainly really big," she said of the crowds' size each day. "I don't remember, but I think this is the top five of the crowds."

Wie was making her third appearance on the LPGA Tour this year, playing under a sponsor's exemption, and tied for 12th at even-par 284.

She also was easily the biggest hitter anywhere near the top.

On holes where drives were measured, she averaged 290.4 yards, including a high of 297 on Sunday. The next longest hitter in the 14 players who tied for 12th or better was Annika Sorenstam: 272.9 yards.

Sunday, at the 491-yard, par-5 third hole, Wie hit a five iron on her second shot.

When asked how long her drive was, she answered: "325, they told me."

PAK-ING IT IN: Juli Inkster was making a bid for the lead when she got to 6-under through seven holes, then bogeyed two holes in a row when she pulled both of her approaches into the rough.

She had two more birdies and an eagle on the back nine, but also added one more bogey and wound up finishing two shots back to Se Ri Pak.

Inkster, a Hall of Famer, said she glanced at the scoreboard when possible during her round, and saw that Pak had moved in front.

"She's a fast finisher. She usually starts off kind of plodding, kind of gets herself in the hunt. Then Sunday, she lets it all go," she said.

Pak's victory was her 10th when she trailed at the start of the final round, and her third rally from a deficit of four shots. The first two came in majors, the 2001 Women's British Open and 2002 LPGA Championship.

Her closing 65 wasn't even her best winning finish. She shot 63 to erase a three-shot deficit against Michelle Ellis in 2002, and 64s to erase three-shot deficits to Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam last year.

TURNING POINT: The 15th hole was often critical during the 20-plus years the PGA Tour played at Kingsmill, and proved to be again Sunday.

Lorena Ochoa, playing in the final group and knowing she was trailing, said she got to the tee thinking she needed to do something dramatic.

"I was in my mind trying to give myself a chance to make eagle," she said. "I missed my driver so I was out of position and at that time, I just tried to keep up, put my head up and tried to make a birdie."

Instead, she made par.

"I thought that was the point," she said. "If I would have made that birdie, get more excited and probably would have finished good."

Pak, who didn't know where she stood when she played 15 a couple of groups in front of Ochoa, said birdie is a must on the 458-yard hole.

"I think 15 is key. You can make (an) easy birdie there," she said.

HALL-BOUND: Pak is the second-youngest qualifier for the LPGA Hall of Fame under the new points format established in February 1999.

The only player younger, according to the LPGA? Karrie Webb, who was 25 years, 7 months and two days when she qualified by winning the U.S. Women's Open in 2000.

Pak is 26 years, 7 months and 11 days old.