Wie, defending champ Park win opening matches

Updated: July 24, 2003, 3:40 AM ET
Associated Press

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Thirteen-year-old sensation Michelle Wie and defending champion In Bee Park won first-round matches Wednesday at the U.S. Girls' Junior.

Wie was 3-up after eight holes, but was extended eight more before eliminating Blair Ressler of Bellingham, Wash., 3 and 2.

"It was her day,'' said Wie, of Honolulu. "She was hitting every shot perfect.''

Wie won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links last month and is trying to become the first player to win both titles.

Ressler, 16, was playing in her first junior championship and was clearly the favorite of the gallery at Brooklawn Country Club by the time her final par putt slid past the cup on her final hole.

"Everyone was here to see her and they were clapping for me,'' Ressler said. "I had nothing to lose. I know I can hit good shots. I wish the match could have gone a little further. It was a lot of fun. I was so excited. She's the best person here.''

Park, of Eustis, Fla., beat Lala Anai, of Lexington, Ky., 6 and 5.

Anai, 15, clinched the 64th and last spot in the match play portion of the tournament by surviving a 10-person playoff earlier Wednesday.

The second round of stroke play was delayed by rain and was completed Wednesday.

Park shot her second straight 1-under 70 to finish one stroke in front of Wie and win medalist honors for the second consecutive year.

"I missed some short putts and I made some long putts,'' Park said. "It was a crazy day.''

The other top seeds -- No. 3 Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff of Toms River, N.J., No. 4 Paula Creamer of Pleasanton, Calif., and No. 5 Julieta Granada of Paraguay -- all advanced to the second round of match play.

"I knew from the beginning it wasn't going to be easy,'' Wie said. "As the No. 2 seed, I don't want to lose. The lower-ranked girls I play don't want to lose either.

"I played great today. I hit a lot of shots close to the hole. I just have to putt better next time.''

The second and third round of match play is Thursday with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday.

The 18-hole final in the tournament for amateurs 18 and younger is Saturday.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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