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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

Pressel already is an old pro at 18

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
A group of fans keeps a close eye on Annika Sorenstam as she practices a shot from off the putting green yesterday at Highland Meadows Golf Club. Sorenstam will start on the 10th tee at 8:40 a.m. tomorrow along with Se Ri Pak and Paula Creamer. A group of fans keeps a close eye on Annika Sorenstam as she practices a shot from off the putting green yesterday at Highland Meadows Golf Club. Sorenstam will start on the 10th tee at 8:40 a.m. tomorrow along with Se Ri Pak and Paula Creamer.
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A year ago, Morgan Pressel was a 17-year-old amateur playing in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on a sponsor exemption.

Tomorrow, she tees off in the '06 Farr as an 18-year-old professional who already has won $244,000 in 13 events as the youngest player on the LPGA Tour.

"Not much has changed except that almost everything I do relates to golf now," Pressel said yesterday at Highland Meadows Golf Club. "I'm still playing the same sport on the same golf course and I'm trying to do the same thing - win."

Pressel made the cut in last year's Farr and finished in a tie for 23rd place at 2-under 282.

As a pro, she finished 16th or higher in four of her first five tournaments. She has a pair of fifth-place finishes and has been in the top 20 seven times.

"I wish I'd played a little better during the first half of the season," said Pressel, who graduated from high school in May. "I would have liked to have won by now, but I wouldn't say that I expected to win by now. I just know I can play better. Hopefully, the results will be a little better this week."

ATM GIRL: There was nothing more entertaining at the Meadows yesterday than when Audra Burks and Christina Kim walked off the ninth green to end their practice round. Apparently, a bit of wagering had taken place.

Former Rockets' QB Chuck Ealey celebrates winning the United Healthcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge with Christina Kim. Former Rockets' QB Chuck Ealey celebrates winning the United Healthcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge with Christina Kim.
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"A profitable day on the golf course," Burks yelled after making her putt.

"Yeah, yeah," Kim responded from across the green, "if you like taking money from children."

Kim may be only 22, but the gregarious Californian has been around for a few years and is already pushing the $2 million mark in career earnings.

"Doesn't bother me," Burks said.

"I gotta go hit the ATM," Kim responded.

"Hey, that'll be my new nickname for you," Burks said, her voice rising. "ATM Girl."

PRO-CELEBRITY: Kim got the last laugh later in the day when she and celebrity partner Chuck Ealey, the former University of Toledo quarterback, won the United Heathcare Celebrity/Pro Challenge at the Meadows.

They won in a chip-off against Pressel and Fox-Toledo sports anchor Brad Fanning. The two teams had tied at 2-under during the six-hole competition.

Ealey, who went 35-0 as UT's quarterback from 1969-71, sank a birdie putt on the last hole, No. 18, to tie the match and then was closest to the pin in the chip-off. He was also on the winning team in last year's celebrity challenge.

Other teams in the rain-plagued event included Beth Bauer and tournament host Jamie Farr, defending champion Heather Young and sports writer Christine Brennan, Julieta Granada and WTOL-TV's Dan Cummins, and Karen Stupples with WTVG-TV's Jeff Smith.

PEPSI JUNIORS: Bauer's team, composed of golfers from St. Ursula Academy, won Monday's Pepsi Junior pro-am. Her teammates were Sara Mew-hort, Nicole Momsen, Ashley Garrison, and Dana Presnell. The group carded a 16-under-par 55.

A team from Notre Dame Academy - Athena Marie Smolka, Emily Gedert, Heather Jorgensen, and Savanna Biggs - teamed with pro Mhairi McKay to finish second at 14-under 57.

OUT, IN: Michele Redman withdrew yesterday, vaulting Angela Jerman off the alternate's list and into the Farr field.



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