LOS ANGELES // While flattered by suggestions she could be the "next Tiger Woods", teenage sensation Mariah Stackhouse has no desire to live up to comparisons as she carves out her own path to stardom. The 16-year-old American got her first taste of the LPGA Tour when she competed in a made-for-television tournament in Jamaica last week, and has set her sights on turning professional after she finishes university.
"I'm sure it's a compliment because we all know that Tiger is a major force in golf," Stackhouse said. "But I have to develop myself as Mariah Stackhouse. "Tiger is a great golfer, but I don't want to model myself too much after anyone else because then you're trying to get to a level where they're at and you never know what you can achieve. "Tiger has done great but I want to see how far Mariah can go."
Stackhouse has already established herself as one of the top junior golfers in the United States and she made a significant impression last week on LPGA veteran Cristie Kerr. "She's got a terrific short game and she's a good putter," said Kerr, who beat Stackhouse in their six-hole match in the LPGA-sanctioned event at Cinnamon Hill. "She needs to get longer [off the tee] but she's only 16. If she were to gain 20 yards or so, she would be competitive on the Tour. Everybody was very impressed by her."
Kerr, whose 12 LPGA titles include the 2007 US Women's Open, said comparing Stackhouse to Woods was unfair. "When Tiger was 15, he was winning the US Amateur," Kerr said. "She is exposed to all this [hype] but I don't think it's a fair comparison. "However she certainly has a lot of potential and if she were to get a little bit longer and get more experience, she could have a very bright future on the LPGA."