Norman leads praise for heroic Wie

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The Independent Online

Clay Ogden might not agree. The 20-year-old did not deserve to take on the persona of golf's biggest bully but by hammering Wie 5 and 4 in the quarter-finals of the US Public Amateur Links Championship at Shaker Run in Lebanon (the equivalent of a 5-0 drubbing at football) the college boy from Utah did so anyway.

Thus the tantalising prospect of Wie storming the gates of Augusta National by earning the right to play at next year's Masters disappeared in 14 short holes. But here at St Andrews, players like Phil Mickelson and Norman were queuing up to praise her efforts in qualifying for the final-64 matchplay stages in the first place and then, heroically, seeing off three older, male rivals to go through to the last eight.

"I think it's very difficult to put into perspective what Michelle Wie is doing," said Mickelson. "I would be amazed if this was a 15-year-old boy playing in men's tournamants and coming within a few strokes of making the cut in a PGA Tour event."

Mickleson was alluding to Wie's performance in last week's John Deere Classic and was impressed enough to declare that Wie is a better player than he was as a 17-year-old. "When I was 17 I couldn't come close to making a cut," he said. "I just can't believe any 15-year-old, especially a girl, could be doing what she's doing. I can't fathom it."

He was not the only one. Norman was equally open-mouthed. "You know, golf has seen some phenomenal changes in the last 30 years, but Michelle?" he said. "I so wanted her to do it, it would have been great. But it's only a matter of time."

Wie will now return to matching her unique talent against the female professionals, another group of unfortunates she so nearly humbled when leading the US Women's Open with a round to go. Europe is given its chance to size up the 6ft Hawaiian in the next fortnight as she competes in the Evian Masters next week in Les Bains, and then the British Women's Open at Sunningdale.