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Big Three attracts a crowd ; Wie, Pressel both at even par

The grouping of Michelle Wie, Ai Miyazato and Morgan Pressel drew big crowds and expectations at the LPGA Championship, but not everyone lived up to the hype during Thursday's first round at Locust Hill Country Club.

Fans lined the fairways and filled the galleries to see three top 20 players in the same threesome. Wie comes into the tournament as one of golf's most hyped players and is still looking for her first win in a major.

"Pressure makes me focus and makes me really want it," Wie said this week.

Wie started off slowly, making eight pars and one bogey on the front nine. She began the back nine with a bogey, but recovered with birdies on holes 13 and 15.

She finished with an even-par 72 and sits tied for 20th. Over the course of the day, Wie struggled off the tee, hitting only seven fairways.

Pressel was more accurate off the tee, hitting 12 fairways.

"You have to put it on the fairways on this course to be successful," Pressel said.

She's been focusing on that area of her game recently, and is seeing results.

"I hit better than I thought. I only hit three on Tuesday," Pressel said.

Pressel made bogeys on Nos. 10 and 15, and birdied Nos. 9 and 11, finishing the day at even par, tied with Wie for 20th.

Although happy with hitting the fairways, Pressel hoped to leave herself in better position on the greens. She came up just short on several long birdie putts and had to settle for par.

"I had 20 feet a lot. It's nice to have 10. I hope I can get a few more to drop," Pressel said.

Pressel is the youngest player in LPGA history to win a major, coming out on top at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007 when she was 18.

Miyazato came into the tournament as the top-ranked player in the world and fresh off a victory at the ShopRite Classic on Sunday.

On Thursday she sat much closer to the bottom of the standings than the top after carding a 4-over 76. Miyazato bogeyed five holes on the day, including three of the last seven.

Her lone birdie came on No. 16, the second shortest par 4 on the course at 341 yards.

Miyazato sits eight strokes behind the leader and is tied for 97th. Last year at the Wegmans LPGA at Locust Hill, she shot an opening round 72 and finished tied for 15th.

e-mail: abremer@buffnews.com