INCHEON, South Korea -- Michelle Wie putted well Thursday to shoot a first-round 2-under-par 70 at the SK Telecom Open and stay in contention for her first cut at a men's tournament.
The Hawaii-born teenager is five strokes off the lead in her eighth men's tournament after Australia's Adam Le Vesconte shot a 65. Malaysia's Iain Steel, Lee Sung-ho of South Korea and
Australian Brad Kennedy were two strokes back on 67.
Wie got a good start after teeing off from the back nine in mild, early morning conditions at the Sky 72 Golf Club by birdieing the 10th.
She went on to make three more birdies, including two after the turn on the first and second holes.
Wie blamed her approach shots for not going lower.
"I just got really bad lies, like on the 16th I had a really
bad lie and on the par-five 18th," the 16-year-old said. "So it
was just kind of bad luck on the chips, but I felt like I putted
very well coming back."
Wie's two bogies of the day were also unlucky.
After her tee shot on the par-four 17th nestled beside a rake -- which had to be removed -- Wie miscued her approach to send the ball rolling down a hill and into a water hazard.
Her penalty drop was placed on the slope and she deftly chipped to within two feet to salvage her first bogey.
Wie dropped into a bunker on the par-five sixth, then saw her 15-foot putt roll to the lip if the cup before it ran out of steam, drawing sighs from the 300-plus gallery of mostly Koreans.
Wie who in March finished third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the year, has South Korean parents and has been adopted by Korean fans as their own.
If she makes the cut after the second round Friday, she will be the second woman to do so at a Korean tournament after LPGA star Se Ri Pak finished tied for 10th at the KPGA Tour's SBS Pro-Golf Championship in 2003. No woman has made the cut in a major men's tour event since Babe Zaharias at the 1945 Los Angeles Open.
The $600,000 SK Telecom Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Despite her U.S. nationality, she has overshadowed South Korean women players in popularity even as some have surged to LPGA Tour title success, while the Hawaiian has gone without a major title.
In the days leading up to the tournament, Wie has been a
staple on South Korean television, taking batting practice at a
professional baseball game, speaking of her love for Korean
food and holding golf clinics for children.
Four South Koreans have now tasted major success with Pak getting the ball rolling in 1998 and Grace Park following
suit at the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
This is the eighth men's tournament for Wie, who regularly hits her drives over 300 yards. She missed
the cut by one stroke at the Casio World Open in Japan last
November after bogeying the last two holes.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.