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Wie shoots 74 in Hawaiian mens tournament

Michelle Wie is proving she can compete with men.

Playing in her second men's event of the year, the 14-year-old Honolulu resident struggled with her putter, but still opened with a 2-over par 74 Friday at the Hawaii Pearl Open.

She was tied for 83rd place with 14 others, eight strokes behind first-round leader Brett Wayment, of Logan, Utah, who shot a 66.

``I was just out of my rhythm today,'' Wie said. ``I didn't play as well as I wanted to, the putts just didn't fall. I think I need to work on my putting.''

The ninth-grader is the only female in the field of 192, and the youngest overall for the third straight year in the 54-hole event, one of the premier golf tournaments in the state.

The field includes 92 men from Japan, including 70 of the top pros.

Last year, Wie shot a 5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 43rd. In 2002, she failed to make the cut after rounds of 74 and 80 in her first tournament playing against men.

``The Pearl opened the door for me playing against the men,'' she said. ``It helped me a lot.''

Wie's round, which started on the back nine, included one birdie and three bogeys. She struggled early in the winds, hitting just 2-of-7 fairways, and had a 37 midway through the round.

She birdied the par-5 No. 1 after a 331-yard drive set up her 7-foot putt. Wie bogeyed the next hole and parred the next six. She lipped a 20-foot par putt on the final hole.

``Today was a very frustrating day for me,'' Wie said. ``I think I could've done a lot better but none of my putts went in, so that was disappointing.''

Wie's group included Tommy Kim (73), Japanese pro Hiroaki Munetsugu (70) and top amateur 15-year-old Yuki Ito (76).

Munetsugu shot a hole-in-one on the 184-yard No. 3.

After the round, one reporter asked Wie if she ever saw an ace.

``Yeah. I had six,'' she said.

Kim said the increased attention wasn't distracting.

``She finished worse than she played,'' he said. ``She easily could've been 1- or 2-under, but the putts just didn't drop.''

Wie's group played in front of a couple hundred spectators. It was the largest -- and only -- gallery on the course. Dozens of reporters and photographers, from as far away as Japan, also followed Wie's every move.

For the first time, tournament officials hired two security officers just to follow Wie.

The cut of the top 80 players and ties will be made after Saturday's round at the 6,787-yard Pearl Country Club.

The 54-hole tournament has a purse of $80,000, the largest of any local tournament.

Less than a month ago, Wie became the youngest player on the PGA Tour at the Sony Open, where she shot 68 in the second round and missed the cut by one shot.

Wie has received at least seven PGA Tour invitations since then.

``It's kind of fun getting all these sponsor exemptions from PGA tournaments,'' she said. ``A couple years ago, I never even thought about it. But it's pretty cool. It's pretty neat.''

Wie played seven times on the LPGA Tour last year, missing the cut just once.

She will return to competing against the women next month in Phoenix at the Safeway International, one of the strongest fields on the LPGA Tour, followed by the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the year.

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