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Michelle Wie to play John Deere Classic

Michelle Wie accepted a sponsor's exemption Monday to play in the John Deere Classic, the second time this year the 15-year-old from Hawaii will take her promising game to the PGA Tour.

Wie played the Sony Open in Honolulu the second week of the year and had rounds of 75-74 in blustery conditions to miss the cut by seven shots. A year ago, she shot 68 in the second round of the Sony Open -- the lowest score ever by a female competing against men -- to miss the cut by one shot.

That got the attention of the John Deere Classic, which tried to lure the teenager last year.

This time, Wie accepted.

``Everyone we've told is excited, and I think the community will react the same way,'' tournament director Clair Peterson said. ``We expect there would be spectators here who might not come out otherwise. She may be one of those players that has interest across all kinds of different demographic lines.''

The John Deere Classic, played on the TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., will be held July 7-10.

Wie, a sophomore at Punahou School in Honolulu, played her first professional tournament at age 12 when she qualified for the Takefugi Classic on the LPGA Tour. She became the youngest winner of a USGA championship for adults two years ago by winning the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.

Her focus has been on the professional tours since then.

She already has played 20 times on the LPGA Tour, including a runner-up finish in Hawaii. Wie would be 10th on the LPGA Tour money list in three tournaments if she took prize money.

Playing in the John Deere Classic, a 7,193-yard course that plays to a par 71, will be part of a busy summer schedule for Wie. She has exemptions or has qualified for all four women's majors this year, and she plans to try qualifying for the U.S. Open in May and the U.S. Amateur Public Links in June.

``People always ask why I do what I do, and why not just follow the conventional path,'' Wie said in a recent e-mail. ``I always wanted to push myself to the limit.''

The John Deere Classic, once one of the weaker tournaments on the PGA Tour, has improved in recent years by moving to the TPC at Deere Run and offering a spot in the British Open to the winner.

Mark Hensby of Australia is the defending champion. The field last year included Vijay Singh, who won in 2003, Masters runner-up Chris DiMarco, Nick Price and Zach Johnson.


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