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Michelle Wie sets sights on playing the Open

Teenage sensation Michelle Wie made a pleasing debut in the Weetabix Women's British Open last week, and she already has set her sights on playing in the men's Open Championship in the near future.

The 15-year-old amateur from Hawaii tied for third at Royal Birkdale, having finished tied for second in the LPGA Evian Masters in France the previous week.

Wie coped with ease with everything the Southport links could throw at her, and in atrocious first-round weather retained her composure with a 75 before adding scores of 67, 67 and 69 for a 10-under-par total. That left her six behind winner Jeong Jang from South Korea.

It was a performance that saw Wie live up to her hype and suggested she could go on and fulfill an ambition by playing in the Open Championship.

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club changed the rules earlier this year to allow women to take part in the Open Championship if they qualify, and that has given Wie the incentive to attempt to tee it up alongside the men in the major.

"I will be investigating ways I can try and qualify," confirmed Wie, whose ultimate goal is to play in the Masters at Augusta.

She came within three matches of gaining an invitation to Augusta next April when she reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship last month.

Wie has yet to decide when she will turn professional, although her 16th birthday on Oct. 11 seems an obvious date. But her performances over the last fortnight merely underlined what likely impact she will have on the women's game when she joins the ranks full time.

She is six feet tall and has a swing already rated one of the best in the game. Her putting is the weak link in her armor, evident at Birkdale where she missed numerous chances.

"It was a little frustrating because I felt I could have putted better and been a lot lower," she said. "But I was quite pleased and I really enjoyed my first British Open. It was even good to get a chance to play in the bad weather."

By the time she plays in her second Women's British Open -- at Royal Lytham next year -- there is every likelihood, observers say, that she will not be defending the leading amateur trophy but chasing the cash prizes.

 

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