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Published: Friday, 7/15/2005

Wie versus Pressel one great rivalry

Don't be surprised if the simmering rivalry between amateurs Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel turns out to be the best thing to happen to women's golf.

Annika Sorenstam is almost too good. She laps the rest of the field on a weekly basis. One of these years, she may win golf's version of the Grand Slam.

But then you look at the crowds following Wie this week at the men's Amateur Public Links, and you realize she has Tiger Woods-like drawing power that the low-keyed Sorenstam can't duplicate.

Wie and Pressel have something else that women's golf needs. Their sky's-the-limit potential and strong personalities point to an old-fashioned, Hatfield-and-McCoys feud the likes of which the sport has rarely seen.

Only real golf fans know that Pressel, 17, is the top-rated women's amateur - not Wie.

Only 15, Wie is fast becoming the face of women's golf. Sorenstam has the titles. Pressel may have a better game. But Wie packs them in wherever she plays - be it last week's John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour, or this week's men's amateur championship in Lebanon, Ohio.

One day Wie and Pressel may become good enough to push Sorenstam for the No. 1 spot. But until then, it's going to be fun watching them beat each other up - not literally, of course.

Wie and Pressel are young stars, but theirs is an old story.

Pressel is no different from Wie. What they both do best is play great golf at a ridiculously young age. But Wie does have one thing going for her. She's a publicity magnet.

There's only room at the top for one Chosen One.

Wie, with a tee shot as big as all outdoors, gets the early nod over Pressel, who may be more deserving of the honor.

Pressel will have plenty to say about it, however. Her off-the-cuff remarks to reporters last week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic following Wie's second-round collapse at the John Deere Classic displayed more joviality than sympathy for her chief rival.

Wie and Pressel have a long history together. Maybe they have become too familiar with each other.

Pressel, who is also No. 1 in the U.S. Girls Junior rankings, knocked Wie out of the Girls Junior championship two years ago. Pressel, who four years ago became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, believes she is a better golfer than Wie. She may be right.

In an obvious example of one-upsmanship, Pressel is petitioning for a waiver of the LPGA 18-year-old age restriction so she can play the tour as a full member next year, ahead of schedule and possibly before Wie turns pro.

Cute.

Pressel believes that Wie should help publicize the women's tour instead of competing against the men. Pressel wants to dominate women's golf and escape Wie's shadow.

It appears there's only one way for Pressel to do that: outperform the person who's casting the shadow.

In the end, though, Wie may still have the last word. If she can win the men's amateur title, she would become the first woman invited to play the Masters.



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