Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Michelle Wie began playing the game of golf at the age of four. When Wie was 10, she shot a personal-best 64 in 18 holes from the 5,400-yard tees at the Olomana Golf Links, one of Hawaii's most popular links style courses. That year, she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship and advanced into match play at the Women's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship using her grandmother's clubs.
In 2002, Michelle Wie won the Hawaii Open Women's Division by
13 shots over LPGA pro Cindy Rarick. Michelle Wie also became
the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event, the Takefuji
Classic and missed the cut.
A year later, Michelle Wie became the youngest player ever to make a cut in a LPGA event at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and shot a 66 in the 3rd round, tying the amateur record for a women's major championship, and placing her in the final group alongside Annika Sorenstam and eventual winner, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. A few months later, Michelle Wie earned an historic victory at the Women's Amateur Public Links tournament, becoming the youngest person ever (male or female) to win a USGA event for adults. In 2004 Wie became only the fourth female, and the youngest ever, to play in an event on the PGA Tour, at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Michelle Wie shot 72-68 to finish at even par, but missed the cut by one stroke.
That year, Michelle was named to the U.S. team for the 2004 Curtis Cup and became the youngest woman ever selected to the play as the U.S. team went on to win. She went on to finish fourth in the Kraft Nabisco Championship. If she had played the 2004 season as a professional, Michelle Wie would have earned over US$250,000 from her tournament results.
Michelle Wie had long attracted attention not just for her height, which had reached 6 foot 1 inch (1.85 meters) by her early teens, but for the length she was able to drive the ball and the form of her golf swing. When Wie was fourteen professional golfer Ernie Els remarked, "Give her another couple years to get stronger, she can play on the PGA Tour." The 6 ft 1 in (1.86 m) Wie, at the age of 16, had an average drive of about 280 yards. Her size and use of Els as a model have led sports media to call her The Big Wiesy, a play on Els' nickname of The Big Easy. Fred Couples said, "When you see her hit a golf ball … there's nothing that prepares you for it. It's just the scariest thing you've ever seen." As to Wie's potential impact on the sport, Arnold Palmer stated in 2003 that "she's probably going to influence the golfing scene as much as Tiger, or more. She's going to attract people that even Tiger didn't attract, young people, both boys and girls, and families."
Michelle Wie started her 2005 season by again accepting a sponsor's invitation to again play in the Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour, where she again missed the cut. She then turned to the LPGA Tour, finishing second at SBS Open at Turtle Bay. That June, Michelle Wie placed second at the LPGA Championship. She became the first female golfer to qualify for a USGA national men's tournament, when she tied for first place in a 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Public Links. At the U.S. Women's Open, she finished the third round in a three-way tie for the lead, but dropped severely after scoring an 82 in the final round, and finished tied for 23. The week after, she played in the John Deere Classic in her third attempt to make the cut at a PGA Tour event, where she missed the cut by two strokes.
In the Men's Public Links, Michelle Wie made the top 64 in the stroke play rounds to qualify for match play and losing in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion. She then played in the Evian Masters, a major on the Ladies European Tour and a regular LPGA event, and finished in a tie for second. The week after, Michelle Wie finished tied for third at the Women's British Open, the fourth and final major of the year.
On October 5, 2005, a week before her 16th birthday, Michelle Wie announced in Hawaii that she was turning professional, reportedly signing sponsorship contracts with Nike and Sony worth more than US$10,000,000 per year. At the same time she announced a pledge of US$500,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief.
Michelle Wie cannot officially become a member the LPGA Tour until her 18th birthday, unless she petitions for an exception to this rule as some players, including Morgan Pressel and Aree Song have previously done. She has not chosen to file such a petition. Since Michelle Wie is not an LPGA member, she is limited to playing in no more than six LPGA events per year and only when granted entry to the events by sponsor exemption. Her earnings also do not appear on the official ADT money list and she is not eligible for Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. However, since Michelle Wie is a professional, Michelle is allowed to collect prize money, enter any non-LPGA events to which she is invited, and appear in the Rolex World Golf Rankings.
Michelle Wie played her first event as a professional in the limited-field Samsung World Championship, an LPGA event open only to 20 top professional ladies golfers, and was initially credited with a fourth-place finish and US$ 53,000. However, shortly after signing her scorecard, rules officials were alerted by a journalist of a possible infraction of the rules on the seventh hole of the third round (played the previous day). It was decided that Wie had made an illegal drop by dropping the ball closer to the hole than its original lie. Because Michelle signed her scorecard without reporting the rules infraction, she was charged with a violation of the rules of golf for signing an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified from the tournament. Had Michelle Wie reported the infraction, she would have instead merely been penalized two strokes.
Michelle Wie played her second professional event in November, 2005 at the Casio World Open on the Japan Golf Tour and shot four over par to miss the cut. Her third professional start was in January 2006, returning to the PGA TOUR at the Sony Open in Hawaii at her home course at the Waialae Country Club, and missed the cut again, this time by 7 strokes. In February 2006, the first release of the Women's World Golf Rankings controversially placed Michelle Wie third in the world, behind Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer, but is now currently second. In order for her to remain in the rankings, she must accumulate a minimum 15 world-wide professional women's tournaments in the preceding twelve months.
To open Michelle's first season on the LPGA, she earned US$73,227 for a third place finish in the Fields Open in Hawaii and US$108,222 for finishing in a tie for third in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
In May 2006, Michelle Wie participated in the SK Telecom Open on the Asian Tour and became the second woman (after Se Ri Pak in 2003) to make the cut at a men's tournament in South Korea. Wie reportedly received US$700,000 in appearance fees for competing in the event that offered US$600,000 in total prize money. On May 16, Michelle Wie finished first in a local qualifying tournament for the Men's U.S. Open. According to officials with the sponsoring United States Golf Association, Wie became the first female to be a medalist in a local qualifier for the men's US Open. Weeks later, she was competing against 152 players (135 professionals, including 48 PGA Tour players) in the final stage of US Open qualifying at Summit, NJ vying for one of 16 available spots in the men's US Open at Winged Foot G.C. Michelle finished 59th and did not advance. In June, Wie tied for 5th in the LPGA Championship and tied for 3rd in the US Women's Open. In July, she played in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship on the LPGA Tour where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals 4 & 3 by Brittany Lincicome. On July 13 and 14, Wie played in the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour, finishing the first round at 6 over par, well above the projected cut line. In the high heat of the second day, her score rose to 8 over par for the tourney and 10 shots above the projected cut line. Michelle Wie voluntarily withdrew from the tournament after the 9th hole, citing heat exhaustion.
Michelle's remaining 2006 summer-fall schedule includes the Evian Masters, Weetabix British Open and the Samsung World Championship on the LPGA Tour, the 84 Lumber Classic on the PGA Tour, and the Omega European Masters on the European Tour. Her participation in the Omega European Masters event will make her the first woman to play in a European Tour event. She is sponsored by Omega and accepted the sponsor invitation to play in the Omega European Masters event in May.
As of July 13, 2006, Michelle Wie has played in a total of 39 professional events: 30 LPGA Tour events, 5 PGA TOUR events, 1 Nationwide Tour event, 1 Canadian Tour event, 1 Japan Golf Tour event, and 1 Asian Tour event. As an amateur she played in several Hawaii state and USGA national amateur events. She has no professional victories.
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