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Michelle Wie targets cut at Boise Open

Michelle Wie's first few weeks of high school have been as hectic as her summer. Wie, the 13-year-old who hits 300-yard drives, will become the first female junior amateur to compete in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament this week at the Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour.

Wie is scheduled to tee off Thursday afternoon and she hopes to make even more history by making the cut, something she failed to do last month in a Canadian Tour event.

"It'd be kind of cool. I love breaking records and being the first one to do something," Wie said Wednesday.

If she hadn't accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in this week's tournament at Hillcrest Country Club, Wie said she would probably spend Thursday afternoon in her ninth-grade biology class at the private Punahou School in Honolulu.

Instead, she's making more headlines. Wie's week got off to a solid start when she played in a charity skins game with PGA Tour members John Daly and Hank Kuehne and LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez. Wie shot a 1-under 34 in the nine-hole event -- two strokes better than Daly and Lopez and one behind Kuehne.

"It was really great. They were really nice people," Wie said. "I really learned a lot from them and am a lot more confident."

Wie describes herself as pretty typical for her age. She longs for a Saturday afternoon at the mall shopping with friends, loves high school and said one of the reasons she prefers golf to other sports is because it doesn't involve running.

But she's hardly typical.

"I'm impressed with Michelle and her poise for 13 and how she swings the golf club. When we were 13, we just kind of grabbed the club and just hit it. Fundamentals? What was that?" said John Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner who is playing in his first tournament since the Masters because of a shoulder injury. "When she gets stronger it will be scary."

Wie, who turns 14 next month, spent the summer playing with adults. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and played in several LPGA events. At the Nabisco Championship in March, she played well enough to be in the final group on Sunday and finished tied for ninth.

Wie is already a huge name in golf, something that was noted by Boise-based Albertsons, which sponsors the tournament and offered Wie the exemption. The first two rounds are expected to draw the largest Thursday and Friday crowds in the tournament's 14-year history.

Wie has already drawn a crowd all week, getting cheers Tuesday afternoon as she put on an exhibition at the driving range. An eighth-grade newspaper class from Boise's Meridian Middle School -- with some students older than Wie -- took a field trip Wednesday to attend Wie's news conference and pose for pictures with her.

Wie doesn't quite understand the attention.

"I'm not really that famous," she said. "I don't know. I don't really call it famous."

Wie is the third female to play in a men's PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament this year. Annika Sorenstam and Suzy Whaley also missed the cut when they tried against the men. Last month at the Bay Mills Open Players Championship on the Canadian Tour, Wie was 9-over after rounds of 74 and 79.

"I think playing there is going to help me get ready for this tournament. I don't know what I learned, but I feel like I'm on a different level," she said. "My game feels really good. I feel like I'm hitting the ball a lot better than this summer."

While Cook said he was impressed by Wie's game, he doesn't want women playing on men's tours to become a trend. Sorenstam, who got a sponsor's exemption to play at Colonial in May, showed she could play competitively but ended up missing the cut by four strokes.

Cook doesn't want to see women become gimmicks to attract attention at men's tournaments.

"To be quite honest, you start to compare and that's not what this is about. There's no need to compare. The bottom line is that's what you end up getting and that's not fair," he said. "If we start seeing more crossover stuff, I don't see anything good that can happen."

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