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Michelle Wie has high expectations in Japan

Michelle Wie expects to make the cut and finish under par at this week's Casio World Open on the Japanese men's tour.

"Hopefully I'll be able to put together four good rounds under par," the 16-year-old Hawaiian said after practising at Kuroshio Country Club on Tuesday.

"I'm feeling great. My aim is to win the tournament."

Wie will be making her sixth start against the men in the $1.7 million JGTO Tour event which starts on Thursday, and her first since she turned professional last month. She has yet to make the cut.

"You never know what's going to happen," said Wie. "I could play bad -- but hopefully I can be consistent and play well."

This week's tournament will be Wie's first since she was disqualified in her professional debut at the Women's World Championship in Palm Desert, California, last month when she fell foul of a drop violation in her third round.

Wie took a drop after hitting her ball into a bush and was adjudged to have dropped the ball nearer the hole. She forfeited fourth place and $53,000.

However, the Honolulu schoolgirl said she was not overawed by competing against the men and reiterated her long-held desire to play in the U.S. Masters at Augusta National.

"To play in the men's tournaments I have to keep getting stronger and get more distance," Wie told reporters.

"There are so many great players on the men's -- and women's -- side. Hopefully, I can keep improving and eventually play in the Masters."

Sweden's Sophie Gustafson missed the cut at the 2003 Casio World Open, the only other time a woman has played in a JGTO Tour event.

Wie said she had become more motivated since turning professional but was anxious to point out it had not changed her outlook on life.

"Turning pro has made me a lot more motivated than I was before," she said. "But off the course not much has changed -- I still go to school, hang out with my friends and go to movies."

Wie's biggest impression of the 7,220-yard course in Kochi was the refreshment kiosks between holes.

"I love the snack stands that they have between holes," she giggled. "I wish we had those in America."

November 23, 2005

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