Michelle Wie played her best two rounds of the week and got to where everyone expected her to be -- a 36-hole match to defend her U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.
The 14-year-old sensation, who became the youngest Publinx winner a year ago, beat No. 2 qualifier Jenna Pearson, 5 and 4, in the fourth round yesterday and then outlasted Angela Park, 2 and 1, in the fifth round in Williamsburg.
Today, Wie will play Ya-Ni Tseng of Taiwan, who beat In Bee Park of Eustis, Fla., in the other semifinal. Earlier, Tseng, 15, beat Ashley Grier of Hagerstown, Md., in the completion of a 22-hole third-round match, then ousted Hannah Jun of San Diego, 7 and 5, in the fourth round.
Having reached the final, Wie said she was relieved.
"A lot of people expected a lot of me this year," she said. "I kind of felt that. I saw my picture on the program. It was a lot of pressure."
She felt it most against Pearson, of Torrance, Calif., who took her only lead on the third hole but matched Wie almost shot-for-shot throughout.
"My heart was in my lungs the whole time," an exhausted Wie said. "I had to make so many putts, and I'm so proud of myself that I did."
* LPGA TOUR: For the first time in 13 years, Kim Saiki has the lead going into the final round of a golf tournament. And she isn't nervous.
"If you're one shot ahead of the whole field . . . you've got to be pretty confident because you're playing pretty good golf," said Saiki, who shot a 4-under 68 to open a one-stroke lead over Rosie Jones after the third round of the Rochester LPGA in Pittsford, N.Y.
While Jones "is a phenomenal player," she said, "I think it's going to be fun. I'm excited."
Saiki, a 38-year-old Californian who's been a runner-up four times since joining the tour in 1992, was at 13-under 203 after her third sub-70 round.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Purtzer's short game made up for some shaky putting and put him in control as he goes for his second win of the season.
Purtzer followed an opening-round 65 with a 68 move to 11 under and take a two-stroke lead over Walter Hall and John Jacobs in the Bank of America Championship at the Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.