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Teenagers qualify for US Womens Open

It was perhaps the first of many meetings, with possibly higher stakes to come.

Michelle Wie, the 6-foot 13-year-old from Hawaii, and 15-year-old Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton survived a three-way playoff for the final two spots in the U.S. Women's Open at the 36-hole sectional qualifier on Monday at The Country Club at Heathrow.

Wie and Pressel beat out tour pro Elizabeth Esterl of Germany, who was tied at 5-over-par 147. Esterl put her approach on the par-4 No. 1 into a greenside bunker and missed a 15-footer for par.

Meanwhile, Wie, who bounced back from a first-round 76 with a 71, was sticking a 165-yard 6-iron to within four feet and Pressel nearly holed out a chip shot from just over the green. Wie birdied and didn't show much emotion as her father and caddie,

B.J., pumped his fist in the air.

"I had a feeling I would make it because I make everything on my third try," Wie said. "I got into the Open on my third try. I got into the U.S. Junior Girls on my third try. I'm getting to the U.S. Amateur on my third try."

"I told people I just wanted to come and laugh (in 2001)," said Pressel, who became the youngest ever to qualify for the Open when she did it as a 12-year-old two years ago. "But now with experience, I'll see what I can do."

Naples' Kristin Tamulis, 22, won't be making a return trip to the Open. The recent Florida State University graduate struggled to a 76 in the second round after carding a 73 and finished at 149, two shots behind the three-way playoff.

"I just didn't putt very well," Tamulis said of the second round. "I'm certainly disappointed."

Andrea Drake, an assistant professional at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, shot a first-round 86 and then withdrew.

Pressel and Wie hugged moments after Wie sank her birdie putt. The two met briefly at the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur last year.

This will be Wie's second major. The long hitter was in the final group of the Nabisco Championship in March before finishing ninth. She also has received invitations to play in a pair of men's events, one on the Canadian Tour and one on the Nationwide Tour, a notch below the PGA Tour.

"I was pretty worried after my 76 because I wasn't hitting it like I wanted to," she said.

Wie and Pressel weren't the only teenagers to start making travel plans for Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., where the Open will be held July 3-6.

Aree Song, who has dropped Wongluekiet from her name to simplify it, was medalist with a 1-over-par 143 total. The 17-year-old, who is the top-rated women's amateur, will be making her second straight trip to the Open, where she was low amateur last year with a tie for 51st.

"I played consistent today, just kept the ball in play, really," Song said.

Paula Creamer, a 16-year-old Leadbetter Academy player and the top-rated junior girls golfer in the country, played with Wie and shot a pair of 72s to finish second to Song. Creamer, who is from Plesanton, Calif., and Wie had a crowd of over 100 following them, including ESPN college football commentator Lee Corso.

"It's definitely a relief," said Creamer, who made the cut but struggled on the weekend in the LPGA Tour's Asahi Rykokuken International last month on a sponsor exemption.

A pair of veterans, 31-year-old Kirsty Taylor of England, who flew over especially for the qualifier, and 24-year-old Laura Korus of Miami Beach each had 145s to tie for fourth.

"That's what I came for," said Taylor, whose 68 led the first round and who finished 14th on the European Tour's money list last year.


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