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Tseng beats Wie in Public Links Championship

Once the only teen sensation of female golfers, tall and regal and in training for greatness, Michelle Wie learned this week it might not be easy to stay at the top.

The 14-year-old failed in her bid to repeat as the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champion Sunday, losing 1-up when Ya-Ni Tseng made a 12-foot putt for birdie to cap a dramatic comeback on the 36th hole.

``I think that golf is getting better, and golf is getting younger,'' Wie said before heading to Massachusetts for next week's U.S. Women's Open, where she was scheduled to play a practice round at 9 a.m. Monday.

``Nothing really worked out for me today from the start to the end,'' Wie said, her eyes welling up with tears. ``I just played terribly.

``I made a lot of bogeys and gave a lot of strokes away.''

Tseng, a 15-year-old from Taiwan who has spent the last three summers as the guest of Ernie Huang of San Diego, rallied from 4 down after 14 holes and 1 down with three to play. She also handed Wie the 15th hole by hitting her drive into the woods and having to hit again from the tee.

Wie then helped create her own demise, lipping out a 6-footer for a three-putt on the 16th green, allowing Tseng to get even. She also left her blast from a perfect lie in the sand 25 winding feet from the cup on the finishing hole, and then left her putt sitting on the right edge.

``I think I got a bit tired at the end,'' Wie said. ``I couldn't keep my, what do you call it, concentration level up. I had a hard time putting. That was the main problem. I couldn't get anything close to the hole.''

When Tseng rolled hers in to complete the stunning upset, she sought out Huang and hugged him on the side of the green, while Wie wept and hugged her mother.

Coach Gary Gilchrist, who walked every hole with her throughout the grueling six-day event, said the loss would be valuable for Wie, who is well into her grooming for a professional career.

``It's going to teach her to hang in, which she did to the end, and over time, she's going to have to understand that there's up and downs in the game of golf,'' he said. ``She got beaten by a pretty good putt.''

Tseng looked as though she would lose when she dropped to 4 down after 14 holes, but never gave up hope. She cut the deficit to 2 up with her first birdie from the sand on the 18th hole, closed to 1 up with a 4-foot birdie on the 21st hole and rose at the finish for her biggest victory.

Wie only trailed early, but felt she was playing from behind all day.

``Even though I was 2 up, I felt like I was 5 down because I lost so many holes in a row,'' she said. ``I tried to think (the second 18) was a new round, but I had a lot of pressure on me in the second round.

``I just didn't work, function. I didn't function at all.''

Tseng feared she would be nervous before the round, but said her nerves subsided after her first drive. A birdie at No. 2 calmed her further.

Even when Wie finally got going and started winning holes, including three out of four to take the 4-up lead, ``I tried to calm down and said there are a lot of holes to play,'' Tseng said through an interpreter.

``I kept telling myself I needed some birdies to get some holes back.''

The key, she said, came on the 30th hole when Wie hit her second shot 20 yards over the green, left her chip on the edge of the green, 15 feet away, and ran a putt she needed 3 feet by before Tseng made birdie.

It closed her to within one hole of all square, and she said when she made a tying birdie on the 14th hole, ``that's when I felt I had a chance.''

Wie's three-putt on the 16th green -- her first putt went about 6 feet past, and her second lipped out -- brought the match back to even, and a pair of long two-putts on the par-3 17th brought it to the par-5 18th.

Tseng hit her drive long and right, the ball sitting up nicely in the rough. Wie hit the fairway a few yards further back and went first, her 3-wood going left of the green and rolling into a greenside sand trap.

Tseng, another long hitter, first grabbed an iron from her bag, then reconsidered and hit a wood, ignoring the sand trap protecting the flag in the right corner of the green and hitting the ball into the trap.

Wie's chip from the sand came up well short of where she wanted it to, despite her imploring it to ``get up,'' and Tseng blasted to 12 feet.

After Wie's 25-footer stopped on the edge, Tseng holed the winner.

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