Michelle Wie: Golf Prodigy

<B>Steve Kroft</B> Interviews 15-Year-Old Golfing Sensation

In 1997, Tiger Woods, then 21, became the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters Tournament. Today, there's an up-and-coming teenager who's set her sights on the Masters.

She's Michelle Wie, a lavishly talented kid from Hawaii with the potential for being the best woman golfer ever. But for her, that's not enough. She wants to compete with men -- and beat them.

When Correspondent Steve Kroft met Michelle last year, she was on a roll, and she was barely 14.
"I think my ultimate goal is to play in the Masters. I think it'd be pretty neat walking down the Masters fairways," says Michelle, who thinks the world is ready for it.

Would she like to win it? "Yeah, I'd love to," says Michelle. "But I think the green jacket's a little bit out of fashion, you know?"

Lots of 14-year-olds dream about winning the Masters, but this is not a fantasy. Last year, Michelle became the youngest person to ever take on the men in a PGA Tour event. And in front of her hometown crowd in Honolulu, at the Sony Open, she performed like a debutante at her coming out party.

She shot 72-68, even par, missing the 36 hole cut by a single stroke, but it was still good enough to tie or beat 64 of the best male golfers in the world – making a believer out of skeptical sports writers like John Hawkins of Golf World.

Where is she in her career now, compared to where Tiger was at his age?

"Taking gender out of the equation? She's ahead of Tiger. She could do more for golf than Tiger Woods," says Hawkins.

At 10, Michelle already had shot a 64 and challenged some of the top women amateurs at the U.S. public links championship. She won the tournament last summer at 13, her first national title, and qualified for five out of six events she played in on the ladies professional golf tour.

"I like challenges, and I have to be the first to do everything, and I just want to be the best," says Wie.

She is just over 6 feet tall, has a perfect swing, and already drives the ball about as far as the average golfer on the men's tour. She is so accomplished and so polished, it is easy to forget that she is just a ninth-grader at Punahou High, and that golf is still an after-school sport.

Michelle watches "American Idol," listens to Coldplay and Good Charlotte, loves Jim Carrey movies, and goes to the mall with her friends. She also works out every day, practices for three hours after school, and eight hours on the weekend.

Other than that, she seems very much the normal teenager, with all the normal anxieties. But she's says one difference is her height. "I'm just freakishly tall," she says, adding that she hopes she's no longer growing.

Michelle began her golf career at 4 and was introduced to the game by her parents, who both emigrated to the U.S. from Korea. Her mother, Bo, who is now a Honolulu realtor, had been an amateur champion there. Her father, B.J., who is a professor at the University of Hawaii, has been a two handicapper, which means he is very good.

She says she starting beating her parents at golf when she was 7 or 8 years old. "They say I started beating them when I was 9. But I refuse to believe that," she says.

Who pushed her more in the game -- her mother or father? "I don't know. I guess my mom," says Michelle. "But I wouldn't really call it pushing because they didn't really push me that much. It was more self-motivated."

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