Galdiano, 13, draws comparisons to Wie at Open

Mariel Galdiano during a practice round for the U.S. Women's Open.

Mariel Galdiano during a practice round for the U.S. Women's Open.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Mariel Galdiano had a full schedule on the eve of her first U.S. Women’s Open. At age 13, Galdiano, who hails from Honolulu, already is the subject of comparisons to Michelle Wie, a native Hawaiian 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.

"She is obviously a great young talent and her dream is to one day be a professional," Sorenstam said Wednesday afternoon in an e-mail. "She said her goal this week is to feel comfortable over the ball, which I think is admirable."

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

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

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, as well as a major field.

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

“It’s a great experience, playing in a U.S. 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 U.S. Open. It’s a truly unique experience for anyone to experience no matter how old a player is.”

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