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Published: Thursday, 7/13/2006

Young seeks dry land

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Water pools near the clubhouse yesterday at Highland Meadows where the National City Celebrity Pro-Am was washed out and the practice tee was closed. Water pools near the clubhouse yesterday at Highland Meadows where the National City Celebrity Pro-Am was washed out and the practice tee was closed.
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Heather Young has rarely played poorly at Highland Meadows Golf Club. She has posted four top-5 finishes in six tries. Last year she walked off with her first LPGA Tour title and a check for $180,000 as the champion of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger.

Still, the former Heather Bowie wasn't about to take anything for granted yesterday.

With the National City Celebrity Pro-Am washed out and the practice tee closed because of wet conditions, Young went in search of a driving range.

"I hear it didn't rain quite as much over the line up in Michigan and there are a couple ranges up there," she said on the eve of defending her title. "I need to hit some balls. I only got nine holes in yesterday and then played in that celebrity shootout event. That's not enough preparation. I definitely need to hit some balls."

So off she went in pursuit of a dry tee and a bucket of balls.

Young has posted one top-10 finish and one missed cut to go with a handful of top-20 finishes this year.

"I haven't had any real bad weeks and no real good weeks, either," Young said. "But I have a pretty good history in Ohio. I like the traditional, tree-lined courses like this one. You can't afford to hit it all over the place. You have to make shots.

"Plus, I don't know if I read greens better here, but I always seem to make a lot of putts, which does nothing but build confidence."

Young said she liked the way Highland Meadows was playing on Tuesday - fairly firm despite considerable rain the last several weeks. That changed when the rains returned yesterday.

"We deal with weather and delays all the time," she said. "We're used to taking whatever conditions are thrown our way."

NANCY SPEAKS: Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez didn't mince any words yesterday when asked her reaction to how 16-year-old Michelle Wie's career, first as an amateur and now as a professional golfer, has been orchestrated by her parents and agents.

"I'm kind of confused because I'm not really sure what she wants to do," said Lopez, who won the New Mexico women's amateur championship at the age of 12. "But I know if I had a 16-year-old daughter who could play golf the way Michelle does, I think I would have advised my 16-year-old to play more amateur golf."

Wie is playing this week as a sponsor exemption in the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic.

"I would have never encouraged her to play on the men's tour," Lopez said. "I know when I was a little girl I wanted to win. I just don't think Michelle can win on the men's tour. I would think that her goal would be to win on the women's tour and be the best she can be on the women's tour. She would be playing against some of the best players that have ever played on the LPGA Tour.

"She's such a great talent, but she hasn't won anything for a long time. I think it's going to be harder. I think if she had played more amateur golf she would have already won out here. I truly believe that."

WASH OUT: Rain forced cancellation of yesterday's National City Celebrity Pro-Am after only a few groups had made their way onto the course.

It marked the first time in the 22-year history of the Farr Classic that any pre-tournament, pro-am event had been washed out.

"If you watched on the radar, the line of storms looked about this wide," said tournament director Judd Silverman, holding his hands about two feet apart. "It was pretty clear to the north and pretty clear to the south, but it hit Sylvania head on and got us pretty good. It was a little unlucky.

"But I guess we were awfully lucky for 21 years that we never had a day like this. It finally caught up to us."



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