Galdiano, 13, eager for Open experience

BY foxsports • July 6, 2011

Mariel Galdiano had a full schedule on the eve of her first US Women’s Open. At age 13, Galdiano, who hails from Honolulu, already is the subject of comparisons to Michelle Wie, who also qualified for her first Women’s Open as a 13-year-old.

It’s fitting, then, that Galdiano and Wie were paired together for a practice round Wednesday at The Broadmoor. After teeing off with Wie at 9 a.m., Galdiano high-tailed it to the practice range, where she met Annika Sorenstam for an exhibition on golf techniques. Sorenstam provided the voice, Galdiano the talent.

Both experiences should help quell whatever nerves Galdiano might have when she tees it up Thursday morning.

“She has large galleries, so I think (it will help) playing tomorrow,” Galdiano said of Wie. “I got the chance to talk with her and she was very nice.”

Galdiano is the youngest player in the Women's Open field. She also is the third-youngest qualifier in Women's Open history, at 12 years, 11 months and 3 days. Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., was 12 years, 4 months and 18 days old when she qualified for the 2007 championship and Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., was 12 years, 11 months old when she qualified in 2001.

The walkways near The Broadmoor’s practice facilities were jammed with spectators asking about “the 13-year-old” soon after the morning’s exhibition ended. As Galdiano walked off the range, she was greeted by a crowd of autograph-seekers, many looking as though they were roughly the same age.

By noon, Galdiano would have had plenty of reason to allow the fame to go to her head, but when asked for her thoughts on the state of her game, Galdiano still expressed a bit of hesitation.

“I’m working on it,” she said with a smile.

This week is, after all, her first experience with high-altitude golf, not to mention a major field.

And Wie can offer a few words of advice for the latter.

“It’s a great experience playing in a US Open when you’re 13 or 14,” she said during her Tuesday press conference. “You know, at that age, it’s just an honor I think to bask in the whole experience of the US Open. It’s a truly unique experience for anyone to experience no matter how old a player is.”

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