A la Ernie Els, Michelle Wie is ready to go global. If there were any remaining doubts, they were dispelled in a whirlwind 12-hour span last week and by comments from B.J. Wie comparing his daughter with the noted globetrotter from South Africa.
On May 15, Wie made history by shooting even-par 72 to earn medalist honors at a local U.S. Open qualifier in Honolulu and becoming the first woman to advance to the final stage of U.S. Open qualifying. Earlier that day, the 16-year-old had accepted an invitation to play in the Omega European Masters Sept. 7-10 in Switzerland, making her the first woman to compete in a continental PGA European Tour event.
In between, Wie received a special exemption to the U.S. Women’s Open, a move that isn’t sitting well with some LPGA players, among them Morgan Pressel, who have said Wie should have to qualify her way into the event like other players who aren’t automatically exempt.
Members of the Wie camp have made their feelings clear: Michelle – who made her first cut in a men’s event at the Asian Tour’s SK Telecom Open earlier this month – is a global icon, and they plan to continue entering her in events on men’s and women’s tours around the world at least this year and next, and likely even after she qualifies to become an LPGA member following her 18th birthday in October 2007.
Said B.J. Wie: “I think we are following that blueprint. She likes it. The trip to Korea was fantastic. It was so much fun. As long as she has good health and good motivation, she wants to travel around the world like a global player, like Ernie Els.”
Wie’s 2006 schedule so far includes 14 events – eight on the LPGA, three on the PGA Tour and one each on the Asian, Japanese and European men’s tours.
So while the younger Wie went home and immediately started on homework after last week’s local Open qualifier, her father was flipping through a calendar and road maps, beginning with a month and a half in the northeastern U.S.
Wie’s next stop will be June 5 at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., site of a 36-hole sectional qualifier where she will compete against dozens of PGA Tour players for one of 19-22 available spots into the U.S. Open. Then she heads to Havre de Grace, Md., for the McDonald’s LPGA Championship June 8-11. Even if she doesn’t make it to the Open June 15-18 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., she will play the U.S. Women’s Open June 29-July 2 in Newport, R.I., followed by the HSBC Women’s Match Play July 6-9 in Gladstone, N.J., and the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic July 10-16.
She then expands her travels to Europe, planning trips to the LPGA’s Evian Masters near Paris July 26-29, the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Aug. 3-6 and the Omega Masters Sept. 7-10. Then it’s back to the U.S. for the PGA Tour’s 84 Lumber Classic Sept. 14-17, followed by the LPGA’s Samsung World Championship Oct. 12-15 in Palm Desert, Calif.
It’s a schedule that might exhaust even Els. As for Wie?
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “It’s always what I wanted to do.”
– Wire reports