Wie will reportedly turn pro next month

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

All signs point toward Michelle Wie turning pro at the Samsung World Championship next month, which begins just a couple of days after her 16th birthday.

The tournament will be her final LPGA Tour event of the year. Still, her father remained guarded about his daughter's future plans.

"Everyone seems to know what I'm doing," B.J. Wie said last week from his office at the University of Hawaii. "Nothing is firmed up. I have not made any decisions. We're still working on a number of things."

Golf World magazine, citing a source involved in ongoing endorsement negotiations who requested anonymity, reported on its Web site Tuesday night that Wie will declare herself a pro before the end of the month to minimize distractions in her pro debut.

B.J. Wie did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday seeking comment on the report.

His daughter turns 16 on Oct. 11, two days before the start of the tournament in Palm Desert, Calif.

She is not expected to petition LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens to waive the tour's age requirement of 18, but will take six sponsor's exemptions on the Tour, plus whatever she can get on the PGA Tour, and in Europe (men and women) and Asia (men and women).

Had she taken prize money this year, Wie would have earned $640,870, enough to be 12th on the LPGA money list in just seven tournaments.

The junior at Punahou School in Honolulu still holds to her dream of playing on the PGA Tour one day, but her father said her first priority is to become an LPGA Tour member.

"Michelle will not bypass the LPGA," her father said. "She will never use the LPGA as a training ground. She will play continuously on the LPGA. At some time, she will try to get her PGA card through the seven maximum exemptions, or if that doesn't work out, go through qualifying. But we don't know when that time will be."

He said he is still poring through offers from management agencies, potential endorsements and trying to figure out her best path, but appears to be moving cautiously.

"There's so many things to take care of," Wie said. "I'm just an ordinary professor. I'm trying to be conservative. If I made a mistake, and she finds out I made a mistake, she'll blame me forever."

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