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LPGA may get its Tiger in Wie

When Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour, there was some resentment among his peers. He had a huge endorsement deal and had not yet done anything. He received unparalleled attention. Soon, they learned what he brought to them, and tour players today are abundantly richer for it.

Perhaps the same thing will occur on the LPGA Tour one day with Michelle Wie, who got a rude welcome to the world of professional golf at the U.S. Women's Open when LPGA veteran Danielle Ammaccapane scolded her for various breaches of etiquette.

Ammaccapane reportedly screamed at Wie in the scoring tent after the first round, saying, among other things, "You are the worst kid I have ever seen playing golf. You will never make it playing this game."

So sad, really. Wie could be the best thing to hit the LPGA Tour _ when she does _ since Nancy Lopez 25 years ago. And for a tour starved for attention, LPGA players should pick Wie up at the airport and drive her to the course. Oh, and can we get you something to eat?

Now this is not to dismiss the missteps of Wie and/or her father/caddie, B.J., who have a few things to learn about where to stand on a green. The biggest error they allegedly made was walking in the "through-line" of Ammaccapane's putts, which is the area beyond the hole where a missed putt can come to rest. Golfers don't like their line stepped on. Apparently, they worry about where their misses will end up, too.

Ammaccapane could have handled things more professionally. Pull the kid aside after the hole and set her straight. Same with the father. And if it happens again, go to a rule official and let that person handle it.

But Ammaccapane made a scene, then Wie's father got involved, and the whole thing turned ugly.

Perhaps Ammaccapane, 37, who has seven LPGA Tour wins but nowhere near the profile of Wie, got tired of being outdriven and outplayed by a teenager. Maybe she's tired of all the attention focused on Wie, who will play in two men's events this summer. Maybe she should embrace it, rather than fight it.

WHO'S SHE?: Before she contended and won the U.S. Women's Open, Hilary Lunke was virtually unknown in women's golf. The name change that went with getting married last year made her more obscure.

But she did have a dubious claim to fame. Two years ago, when still an amateur and going by Hilary Homeyer, she lost to an 11-year-old at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.

The preteen who defeated her? Wie.

SENIOR CHANGES: The Champions Tour has made several eligibility changes that go into effect next year, among them the reduction of fields to 78 players, down from 81 this year.

Fields will be comprised of the top 30 from the previous year's money list (down from 31) and, after them, the top 30 available from the all-time money list.

Other ways to get into tournaments are to be among the top four in the PGA Tour career victory category, for ages 50 and 51. That is up two spots from this year; the top seven from the national qualifying tournament (down one spot), plus eight conditional spots; two spots from Open qualifying (down from four); five sponsor exemptions, with two restricted to players with a minimum of one PGA Tour or Champions Tour win.

TIGER POWER: The worst thing you can do is challenge Woods, and we're not talking about on the course but on television. With Woods in contention at a tournament, no matter how big the lead, he is a huge boost to the ratings.

That was the case again last weekend when Woods led the Western Open by as many as 10 shots. Though much of Sunday's final round was delayed by rain, the telecast on ABC still beat the U.S. Women's Open. The Western, where Woods posted his 38th career victory, had an overnight rating of 2.8 to the Women's Open's 2.2.

In the Tampa Bay area, the Western drew a 4.5 rating on Sunday compared to 3.3 for the Women's Open. The local market was ninth in the country for the Western.

SPONSORSHIP: Progress Energy has agreed to become the title sponsor for the Chrysler Championship's pretournament pro-am at the Westin Innisbrook Resort. The 72-hole PGA Tour event, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, is preceded by a pro-am Oct. 29 that will be called the Progress Energy Partner Pro-Am. The pro-am will feature 52 players from the field, including the top 40 available from the money list, with three amateurs in each group. For information, call 727-942-5566.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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