Thursday, July 31, 2014         


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Wie shoots season's lowest 9-hole score to take lead

By Noah Trister / Associated Press


ROGERS, Ark. » It's a story line the LPGA Tour has to love.

Michelle Wie, the 20-year-old former prodigy finally playing to her potential, vs. Juli Inkster, the 50-year-old Hall of Famer hoping to become the oldest player to win on the tour.

"It's going to be like 'Beauty and the Beast' out there," Inkster said. "I don't have the pretty swing or whatever. I just try to get the ball in the hole."

The stage is set for a fantastic finish today at the Northwest Arkansas Championship. Wie shot a 7-under 64 yesterday — playing her first nine holes in 7-under 28 — to take a three-stroke lead over Inkster (66), Yani Tseng (68) and Na Yeon Choi (68). Tseng, a two-time major winner this year, also will be in the final group.

Wie, trying for her second straight victory after winning the Canadian Women's Open two weeks ago, had the lowest nine-hole score on the LPGA Tour this year. She finished with a two-round score of 10 under.

At one point, she appeared ready to make a run at a 59, but Wie said that wasn't her focus.

"That actually didn't even cross my mind at all," Wie said. "I just focused on the next shot and trying to get myself birdie opportunities."

Wie started her round on No. 10 and birdied five of her first seven holes. She holed out from 80 yards for a birdie on No. 12, and her approach on No. 18, a 515-yard par 5, popped in and out of a bunker before settling on the green. She then made an uphill putt of about 35 feet for an eagle.

"It was a fun round today, I have to say," Wie said.

She made a tap-in birdie on No. 2 to move to 8 under for the day through 11 holes, but she slowed down a bit after that and will have to hold today.

Wie played the four par 5s in 5 under yesterday, a six-stroke improvement from the first round. Inkster nearly made a long eagle putt of her own on No. 18, but it slid off the edge of the hole.

Several LPGA players have shot 29 this year for nine holes, but Wie's 28 was the first. Ji Young Oh shot 7 under on a par-37 nine at the Safeway Classic.

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