The Professional Golf Association tour continues its season Thursday as the John Deere Classic gets under way in Silvis, Illinois. The tournament will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a special guest in the field, 15-year-old American Michelle Wie, the first woman to play at the event.
The one meter 83 centimeter tall Hawaiian is playing the TPC (The Player Club) at Deere Run on a sponsor's exemption. And her appearance has made Wie the main attraction at the tournament, with ticket sales up about 10 percent over last year.
But Wie, whose long-term goal has always been to play against the men, missed the cut in her two previous PGA appearances at the Sony Open in Honolulu. Even so, the teen sensation believes she will be a contender. "You know, every time I come into it (a tournament) I feel like I have a chance to win. If I don't feel like I have a chance to win, then I have no chance to win," she said.
Compatriot Zach Johnson, who played a practice round with Wie on Tuesday, was impressed with her play. "Oh, yeah, I think she can be in contention. I don't think there is any doubt. She's good. When you have a phenom like that, regardless, male or female, you have to showcase it in some fashion," he said.
Among those in the field are British Open champion Todd Hamilton of the United States, and fellow major champions David Toms and David Duval of the United States, and Zimbabwe's Nick Price. Australian Mark Hensby is the defending champion.