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Maiden win for Wie 'will boost Tour'

WHEN US LPGA administrators and players gathered last weekend in Virginia, one of the most-discussed topics was ways for all players to help draw more fans to their tour by being more visible outside the ropes.

Of course, it wasn't lost on some that there just happens to be a 19-year-old who could make a splash on the course, too. Imagine the buzz for Michelle Wie's first tour win.

"Wouldn't hurt," Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said.

The Stanford University student has long been the most hyped player in women's golf, a phenomenon before she was a teenager who tried using competition against her peers merely to hone her game with a real goal of taking on the men, first on the US PGA Tour, and at the Masters.

But while the millionaire many times over always seemed to contend in majors on the US LPGA Tour, and even twice shot 68 in the US PGA Tour's Sony Open, her last victory came in the US Women's Amateur Publinx - at age 13. Now, she's a rookie on the women's tour, and trying to be just one of the girls.

"This year definitely feels like a fresh start," she said on Tuesday at Kingsmill, site of this week's Michelob Ultra Open. "It got me more excited about playing, especially playing every week. I just have a new mindset. It feels like a new opportunity and it's a lot of fun."

Wie declined to speculate about what impact a breakthrough victory would have - but Rankin and others think the boost it could give the women's game in a sagging economy would be sizable.

"First of all, people are going to be happy to see this phenomenal talent finally begin to reach her potential," Rankin said. "Secondly, because of her age, because she is so young, people are going to be happy to see her overcome the difficulties of the last few years."


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