Wie on mission to win first major as Davies targets career grand slam

ENERGISED after finally winning her first LPGA Tour title four months ago, Michelle Wie has great expectations for this week's Kraft Nabisco Championship where she has flourished in the past.

The 20-year-old Hawaiian has posted three top-tens in the opening women's major of the season and is eager to build on her breakthrough victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

"I'm really excited for this week," Wie said before the tournament got under way last night. "I've been looking forward to it basically all year. I have a lot of good memories here and hopefully this year will be the year for me. One of the best feelings I've felt in my career was walking down 18 to that green by the huge grandstand with people cheering for you. That has to be one of my fondest memories."

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Wie tied for ninth at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship where she became the youngest player to make the cut at a LPGA event aged 13 years, five months and 17 days. "I got to play in the last group with Annika (Sorenstam] and Patricia (Meunier-Lebouc] and that was really neat as well," recalled the tall Hawaiian, who was the game's most trumpeted teenager since fellow American Tiger Woods. "This is a very special tournament and has a lot of tradition. It's also a really fun tournament. I'm really ready, I'm really excited and I can't wait."

Asked whether the challenging 6,673-yard Dinah Shore layout at Mission Hills suited her power game, Wie said: "It's hard to say. It all really depends that week how I play. When you're playing well, every course seems perfect for you. It's a fun golf course but it's not an easy one. You have to keep it in the fairways and this week the rough is very healthy and very green. So I'll try and keep it in play and make some putts." Wie has twice finished in the top five at Mission Hills, placing fourth in 2004 and tying for third in 2006. A lingering wrist injury prevented her from competing in 2007 and 2008 before she finished a disappointing joint 67th last year. "Looking back on last year, I was still injured at this point. I wasn't driving the ball well at all and I wasn't hitting the ball well. I was still in the process of getting better. I think it really took me a lot longer than I expected."

Meanwhile, Laura Davies, buoyed by a triumphant start to this year, believes she is close to the best form of her illustrious career. The 46-year-old won her 53rd title worldwide at the New Zealand Women's Open in February and has set her sights on a fifth major victory this week to put the seal on her glittering resume. "A win here would mean everything to me," said Davies. "It's the last leg of the (career] grand slam, it would get me in the Hall of Fame and it would get me in everything for the rest of the year and the next few years coming. So there's a lot on the line."

England's Davies, who has piled up 20 LPGA titles, won her first major at the 1987 US Women's Open before adding the McDonalds LPGA Championship in 1994 and 1996 and the Du Maurier Classic, also in 1996. The Du Maurier Classic was replaced as a grand slam event by the Women's British Open in 2001. Victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she has posted four top-five finishes including a runner-up spot in 1994, would complete a long-cherished career grand slam.

"But you don't think about that," the long-hitting Davies said. "All you think about is getting off to a good start and having a chance (to win the tournament] on Sunday morning. The ultimate goal, you try not to think about it or you put too much pressure on yourself."