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Another Tiger is on the prowl

Move over Tiger Woods. There's another golfer out there who is taking the sport by storm and she's barely into her teens.

Michelle Wie, the 13-year-old eighth grader from Honolulu, Hawaii, definitely has talent for the game.

The youngster who stands 5 feet, 11 3/4 inches averages nearly 300 yards off the tee. If she were a regular in the LPGA she would even out hit Annika Sorenstam, the top player on tour.

Throughout the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, legions of fans followed the teen-ager from hole to hole, marveling at her ability.

"She's impressive," said Henry County resident Tim Tracie.

Wie gave fans their money's worth by finishing at 3-under par, good enough for a tie at 33rd place. After Saturday's round 2, she was 2-under par and became the first amateur to make the cut at the Chick-fil-A.

Wie wants to continue to make history as she pursues her career on the links and she has some lofty goals. She not only wants to play in the LPGA but on the PGA Tour and maybe even play at The Masters. With all her accomplishments and potential at such a young age, she's drawn comparisons to her golf hero, Tiger Woods.

"It's real cool because he's my idol and he's the top player of golf," she said. "He's a really good player so it's cool to be, like, compared to him."

She might be the next ?Tiger Woods' but she doesn't plan on playing professionally any time soon. She has to be at least 18 to play on the LPGA Tour as a professional but she wants to go to Stanford, Woods' alma mater.

In the meantime, she will play in various amateur tournaments and occasionally play in LPGA events as an amateur. She plays in four more tournaments this season.

"I think six is an okay number of tournaments right now," she said. "I think I would get sick of it if I played every week."

It's a wise decision if she doesn't rush to play professionally. She is still very much a kid and she shouldn't give up her childhood to play golf.

With her talent, she can still wait nine to 10 years and have plenty of time to play on the LPGA Tour or who knows, she might even get to play on the PGA Tour.

If she rushes things, she could burn herself out and become bitter about the game.

The key will be her parents. Right now, they are encouraging her to play and are supporting her but are not overbearing. They don't go ballistic if she messes up but they let her make mistakes and enjoy the game.

"He's (Wie's father B.J.) so nice; he's got a great personality," LPGA legend Nancy Lopez said. "They are there to hold her hand and support her and when you have parents like that you can very successful."

Wie has gotten support from the other ladies on the LPGA.

"They treated me like just an LPGA player not as a 13-year old, so it was really nice being at the same level as them," Wie said after competing in the Chick-fil-A.

If she continues to improve and refine her game she won't just be playing on the same level as the LPGA but will be, by far, one of the best players in the league.

But right now, the teen-ager has other things on her mind besides playing golf.

Even though she is a golf prodigy, she leads a semi-normal life as she takes part in activities that other teens do such as going to the mall, hanging out with friends and worrying about school work.

When Wie goes back to school Tuesday in Honolulu, she will be greeted with an 8 a.m. math test.

It's the life of a teen-ager.

Anthony Rhoads is a sportswriter for The Daily. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com.