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Pressel packing her game

Published Feb. 22, 2006

Morgan Pressel is quickly learning what it takes to be a pro on the LPGA Tour, including packing your own bags.

Days before the 17-year-old's much anticipated pro debut at the SBS Open, and an announcement she had signed a deal with Polo Ralph Lauren, Pressel didn't bring to Hawaii 15 hand-selected shirts embroidered with her new sponsor's logo.

"That's all my grandma's fault," she said. "I got my shirts out a couple days early because I was going to be real busy and it was her responsibility to put them in the suitcase, and she wanted to leave them in the closet so they didn't get wrinkled.

"I woke up when we got here and said, "Grandma, where are my shirts? Oh, no. You left them at home.' "

The shirts were neatly hanging in a closet at her Boca Raton home - a world away fromOahu's remote North Shore, where ABC's Lost is filmed and surfers converge every year for the huge winter swells.

Telling a teen to wear "something else" the first day on the job is like sending her to the prom in golf shoes. And it's not like she can hit the neighborhood general store to pick up a few shirts with Polo on the sleeve.

Thank goodness for Fed Ex.

Her aunt saved the day by sending the shirts to Hawaii. Pressel got the shipment Tuesday, a day before the pro-am and two days before Polo announced Pressel will appear in its splashy new advertising campaign.

One thing Pressel didn't forget to bring to the islands: her game.

Pressel, the U.S. Amateur champion and U.S. Women's Open runnerup, tied for fifth Saturday at the SBS Open with 7-under 209, three strokes behind playoff winner Joo Mi Kim. Pressel earned $33,952 in her first paycheck from the LPGA.

She was only two shots off the lead when she checked the leaderboard before teeing off on No. 10. That's when "it all went downhill," she said.

"I had problems making solid contact on most of my shots and left myself a lot of long putts and my speed was off. If all those things would've gone a little bit better, who knows what would've happened," she said.

Pressel also defused some of the buildup with her and Michelle Wie heading into this week's Fields Open, where both teens will play.

The outspoken Pressel caused a stir a couple weeks ago by saying Wie should have to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open instead of getting an exemption. The comments came a few months after Pressel's candid comment in Fortune magazine that featured Wie on the cover. "She's going to make something like $10-million? For what? For winning one tournament?" she said.

Pressel said she doesn't have anything against the 16-year-old star from Honolulu.

"I didn't mean anything, especially against Michelle," Pressel said. "I just made a statement that everybody else has to qualify and I'm going to stick by that statement. But it will obviously come down to what the USGA says, but it was definitely nothing personal. That's for sure."

Pressel gave herself a B-minus for her debut, but said her first week as a pro was a learning experience.

"Just take away confidence that I didn't necessarily play my best this week, but I'm still in there," she said.