Child prodigy Wie ready for British debut

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The Independent Online

Michelle Wie may be only one player on one of the teams in this weekend's Curtis Cup but as the best male golfers in the world found out earlier this year there is no shame in being upstaged by this particular 14-year-old schoolgirl. Wie makes her first competitive appearance in Britain tomorrow, representing the United States against Great Britain and Ireland in the women's amateur version of the Ryder Cup.

Michelle Wie may be only one player on one of the teams in this weekend's Curtis Cup but as the best male golfers in the world found out earlier this year there is no shame in being upstaged by this particular 14-year-old schoolgirl. Wie makes her first competitive appearance in Britain tomorrow, representing the United States against Great Britain and Ireland in the women's amateur version of the Ryder Cup.

Wie, a prodigiously talented player from Hawaii, is the youngest competitor ever to play in the match but this is hardly the first time she has been the centre of attention.

In January, Wie missed the cut by one stroke at the Hawaiian Open, tying with the likes of Darren Clarke, Jim Furyk and Ben Curtis. More than a handful of the men were outdriven by a player who is taller than Tiger Woods and can hit the ball 300 yards with the ease of Ernie Els.

But her short game and composure were even more impressive and in March at the Nabisco Championship, a women's professional major, Wie finished fourth. This is her first experience of a team competition but from the eagerness with which the American players headed for a shopping trip in Chester yesterday afternoon Wie appears to have had little trouble in bonding with her more senior team-mates.

"I'm really excited," Wie said. "It's so great to be playing for my country and I'm going to be in tears at the flag-raising. I feel very proud of myself for making it this far. I never really get nervous but I might be here.

"Playing in a team is so much more fun than playing by yourself. Golf can be a lonely sport playing by yourself."

As well as getting used to foursomes - there is a series of foursomes and one of singles on each of the two days - and trying fish and chips for the first time, Wie has had to get used to the unfamiliar terrain of a links. Formby, to the north of Liverpool, is just one of the pearls on the Lancashire coast.

"The one thing I wanted to see in England was a pot bunker," she said. "I was really excited when I saw my first one but after I went in it, I never wanted to see another one again.

"But this a beautiful course and you always have to keep the ball in play. It's so different from the United States. It's a whole other adventure."

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