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Golf's Girl Power

Peter Yang Michelle Wie at a private estate in Oahu, Hawaii.

Photo: Peter Yang

The Swede: Louise Stahle

THE BUZZ Don't feel bad if you haven't heard much—yet—about Louise Stahle, 20. A five-foot-nine native of Sweden, she played only one year in this country, at Arizona State, before heading home to turn pro this summer. But her name won't be obscure for long. Coached by Henri Reis and Pia Nilsson, who previously did a fair job bringing Annika Sorenstam along, Stahle was the top-ranked female amateur in Europe by a lopsided margin before enrolling at ASU, and once there she ended up top-ranked again, as the NCAA Player of the Year.
THE Backstory Stahle grew up in Lund, Sweden, playing at the Barsebäck Golf Club, which hosted the 2003 Solheim Cup, and she remains very much a Swede. She won almost everything there was to win on the amateur circuit in Europe, including the French Women's ­Amateur and, in both 2004 and 2005, the British Women's Amateur, becoming the first player in thirty years to defend Europe's most prestigious women's amateur title. She even won a Swedish professional event.
Bonus Points In ten events for Arizona State, Stahle posted three victories (including the Pac-10 title) and four seconds, easily the most dominant record in all of college golf. She also nosed out Brittany Lang for lowest stroke average. In her final amateur start, Stahle finished eighth at the British Women's Open, and in her first pro event the next week at Barsebäck, she finished fifteenth.
Quotes "[Being a pro] doesn't feel any different. The only difference is you have to fill in all the different administrative papers."
The Future Stahle recently cruised through the first stage of LPGA qualifying. Could we be looking at Annika II?

The Phenom: Michelle Wie

THE BUZZ Her talent is extraterrestrial. At thirteen years old—and six feet tall—Michelle Wie could already bomb drives 300 yards. David Leadbetter calls her swing the best he has worked with. The speculative question is whether Team Wie is maximizing her long-term potential. When Wie turned pro in October, shortly before her sixteenth birthday, she scored an estimated $10 million in endorsements. But apart from the 2003 U.S. Women's Public Links, she has never won a significant tournament. Tiger Woods, by contrast, dominated at every level as he matured.
THE Backstory A genuine prodigy, Wie at ten became the youngest ever to qualify for a USGA championship, the Women's Public Links; at twelve the youngest to qualify for an LPGA tournament; and at thirteen the youngest to make an LPGA cut. In 2004, she missed the cut by just one stroke at the PGA Tour's Sony Open. And this summer, she became the first female to qualify for an open USGA event, the Public Links. Withal, she's still a junior in high school in Honolulu who loves hanging out at the mall with pals and dangles a teddy bear from her golf bag.
Bonus Points In her first seven LPGA events in 2005, Wie was runner-up three times and third once. Had she been a pro, she would have ranked twelfth on the money list.
Quotes "People don't realize I played in a lot of junior events, from ages nine to twelve. I had a 100 percent winning average and got really bored with it."
The Future Wie, a Korean-American, is learning Japanese. Expect her to compete frequently overseas and in men's events. Her ultimate goal is to play in the Masters.


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