Originally created 02/27/06

Wie takes home new watch, first paycheck from LPGA Tour



KAPOLEI, Hawaii - Michelle Wie heads back to high school Monday with $73,227 from her first LPGA Tour paycheck and a diamond-encrusted watch from her latest endorsement deal.

The 16-year-old junior at Punahou School was particularly enamored with the Omega watch she was given before the final round Saturday at the Fields Open, where she dazzled a hometown gallery with seven birdies in her round of 66 that left her one shot out of a playoff.

"It's sparkly," Wie said. "I kept checking the time like every five minutes."

Trouble was, she ran out of time.

Starting the final round of the 54-hole tournament six shots behind, Wie pulled into a tie for the lead with a birdie on the 17th hole before missing an 18-foot birdie on the last hole and finishing at 13-under 203.

Meena Lee birdied the 18th hole to finish at 14-under 202, and Seon Hwa Lee birdied the 14th and finished with no mistakes to join the playoff. Meena Lee wound up winning.

"I really wish it was a 72-hole event," Wie said.

Even so, it was another head-turning start to her 2006 year on the LPGA Tour, and her first paycheck. She was disqualified from the Samsung World Championship in her pro debut last October when she was deemed to have taken a bad drop, and missed the cut in two men's tournaments (Casio World Open and Sony Open).

It was the fifth time Wie has finished in the top three in her last nine LPGA Tour events, although this was the closest she came to winning. Her birdie putt on the 18th was one she has practiced countless times at Ko Olina Golf Club, but it strayed to the left.

There also was that three-putt bogey on the par-5 13th that slowed her charge.

"There is a lot of what if, what if, what would have been," Wie said. "It would be nice. It would have been awesome if I had won, but unfortunately it didn't happen this week. But hopefully it will happen in the next one."

That won't be for another five weeks at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the year.

With the strong showing, Wie may move up to No. 2, behind Annika Sorenstam, in this week's Women's World Golf Ranking. Wie was ranked third behind Paula Creamer, who finished tied for 11th Saturday.

Wie played in front of a huge gallery packed 10 deep, cheering her every swing. She was paired with 17-year-old Morgan Pressel, the youngest player on the tour, and 49-year-old Sherri Turner, the oldest player entered in the event.

"The positive energy I received from the crowd was awesome," Wie said. "I basically knew half of the people in the gallery."

Pressel, the U.S. Amateur champion and U.S. Women's Open runner-up, was in tears after her 71, giving her a three-day total of 8-under 208. She tied for 11th with Creamer and six others.

"I have high expectations and I'm disappointed when I don't meet them," Pressel said.

The teens last played together in the third round of the 2003 U.S. Girls Junior Championship, with Pressel beating Wie, 3 and 2.

They proved Saturday they were still teenagers - even though they don't play like it.