Wie struggles against the men in opening round of Casio World

Thursday, November 23rd 2006, 6:43 am
By: News On 6

KOCHI, Japan (AP) _ Michelle Wie made a disastrous start in her latest bid to make the cut at a men's golf tournament Thursday, shooting a 9-over-par 81 in the first round of the Casio World Open.

The 17-year-old's troubles started early at the par-72 Kuroshio Country Club. After teeing off in light rain on No. 10, she bogeyed the par-4 12th hole and had four straight bogeys from the par-3 14th.

``I don't think it was pressure,'' said Wie. ``My first couple of drives went left and it was tough to get my rhythm back after that.''

Wie, who had nine bogeys for the round, is making her second appearance at the US$1.19 million (euro930,000) event. Last year, she bogeyed her final two second round holes to miss the cut by a stroke.

Japan's Azuma Yano and compatriot Tetsuhara Haraguchi were tied for the lead with India's Jeev Milkha Singh after all three shot 6-under 66. Wie was 101st, two strokes ahead of last-place Tomomichi Oto.

Despite failing to make a single birdie, Wie said she wasn't too concerned about her game.

``I don't think I was playing that bad,'' said Wie. ``My long game put a lot pressure on my short game. I have to get my confidence back on my drive and just hit the ball the way I always do and I'll be fine.''

Wie has made the cut in just one of her 11 men's tournament starts _ in May at the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open in South Korea.

In her last three men's events, she withdrew from the John Deere Classic because of heat exhaustion after playing 27 holes in 8 over and finished last in the European Masters (78-79) and 84 Lumber Classic (77-81). She's winless in 33 LPGA Tour appearances, the last nine as a professional.

Wie said she was still confident about making the cut.

``I've been practicing and working on my game a lot,'' said Wie. ``I still have a positive mind-set for tomorrow.''

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie withdrew from the Casio, citing personal reasons. New Zealand's David Smail will be seeking his third Casio title to add to his victories here in 2002 and 2004.

The field also features Japanese tour money leader Shingo Katayama and veteran Jumbo Ozaki, who has a record 94 Japanese tour victories.