Michelle Wie, Lucy Li impress in different ways in strong openers at ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – As Michelle Wie walked behind 14-year-old Lucy Li on the first hole at Mission Hills, she thought to herself: “She’s really cute.”

That wasn’t the reaction Wie remembers receiving at the ANA Inspiration when she played with the pros at that age.

“No one really called me that when I was 13. ‘Damn, she’s tall,’ ” Wie said, laughing. “That’s all I got.”

The Wie-Li pairing on March 30 was a fascinating study of the extraordinary. At nearly a foot apart in height, Li looked like a mini-mini version of Wie, their black hair braided similarly with flashy shoes and fashionable attire. They’re both book smart – the homeschooled Li already has skipped two grades (she’s a junior), and Wie earned a degree from Stanford while playing full-time on the LPGA. They’re both DIYers who love to craft. Wie, with her black choker necklace and biker shorts, stands out from the crowd much like Li did earlier in the week with a uniquely fringed top.

Their golf games were worlds apart on a picture-perfect day in the desert, but both played beautifully. Li held her own with a 1-under 71 showing in her ANA debut, staying within herself against a towering opponent. Wie, meanwhile, continued the fine form she first showed in Singapore with a 4-under 68, one stroke behind leader Karine Icher.

The day’s marquee pairing undoubtedly delivered.

“I’m really impressed (by) how she carried herself from hole No. 1,” said Wie. “Her game did not seem 14.”

While the morning wave competed in ideal conditions, officials suspended play at 6:16 p.m. EDT when winds started gusting as high as 35 m.p.h. At nearby Palm Springs airport, a gust of 64 m.p.h. was recorded. Officials eventually called play for the day at 7 p.m. World No. 1 Lydia Ko was 2 under through five holes when play finished. Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 2, played her first seven holes in 1 over.

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