All Eyes on Wie as She Prepares to Turn Pro

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Everywhere she goes, people can't help but notice Michelle Wie.
 
As a 13-year-old still wearing a retainer, she was warming up on the practice range for a junior pro-am at the Sony Open in Honolulu. When she pulled out her driver, five PGA Tour players on both sides of her stopped to watch her launch tee shots that approached the 300-yard marker.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will reportedly make upwards of $10 million just by turning pro.
Last year in Portugal, where Wie received the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year award, she walked into the banquet room filled with celebrities that included as Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Placido Domingo.
 
``Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and watched her go to her table,'' said Greg Nared, a Nike business manager who has been tracking Wie the last two years. ``That told me a lot.''
 
The 15-year-old from Hawaii who commands so much attention is on the verge of commanding top money. Wie is about to turn pro, and endorsements estimated to be worth as much as $10 million a year await.
 
Two sources close to Wie, speaking on condition of anonymity because she is still an amateur, said the announcement will not be made until endorsement deals are signed.
 
That could be done before the Samsung World Championship, which starts Oct. 13, two days after her 16th birthday. It will be the eighth and final LPGA Tour event Wie plays this year.
 
``There is nothing to say until everything is completed,'' her father, B.J. Wie, said Wednesday.
 
He added that ``we are getting close,'' but said her decision to turn pro would not be related to Samsung.
 
``It doesn't have to be associated with a tournament she would play,'' the father said. ``There is no target date we have to meet.''
 
When it happens, she will be the highest-paid female golfer in the world.
 
One deal that is nearing completion is with Nike, which is no surprise. Wie has been playing its irons and golf ball the last two years, and often wears the swoosh on her clothing. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said the deal could be worth anywhere from $4 million to $5 million a year.
 
She also is working on a deal with an Asian-based electronics company that could be worth about $3 million a year. Golf World magazine reported another possible endorsement with an airline company.
 
Annika Sorenstam, the best player in women's golf, makes about $7 million a year in endorsements. No other female golfer is remotely close.
 
``Did I hear she might make $10 million a year?'' David Toms said Wednesday. ``I'd like to get half that much. And I've won a tournament.''
 
Early projections were that Wie could command up to $20 million a year in endorsements, and her potential earnings could surpass that. But the family is starting slowly and conservatively, in part because Wie still has two years left before she graduates Punahou School in Honolulu.
 
``If I was handling the strategy, it would be a five- to eight-year strategy,'' said Steve Lauletta, who ran Miller Brewing's sports marketing for 10 years and now is president of Omnicom's Radiate Sports Group. ``Maybe you do one or two now, and 24 months down the road, you add another one or two. Not only are there commitments with school, but she's so young. You're interacting with corporate CEOs, older persons.
 
``She might not be as comfortable talking to them as she will be five years down the road.''
 
B.J. Wie declined to discuss endorsement opportunities, but he noted that his daughter -- who made straight A's in the spring semester while playing three LPGA Tour events -- wants to graduate with her class and still wants to purse a business degree, preferably at Stanford.
 
``She wants to complete her schooling and be in control of her own business empire,'' swing coach David Leadbetter said. ``I would say there's no question she's got some great goals, more than being a golfer. She's learning Chinese, Japanese. She soaks up so much information.''
 
Her golf plans are a little more clear.
 
Those plans took root in January, as Wie was getting ready to play in the Sony Open for the second straight year. Her father spoke that day of her becoming a global golfer, with a base on the LPGA Tour, but also taking her game to Europe and Asia to compete against men and women.
 
As popular as she is in the United States -- record crowds at the John Deere Classic, where she nearly made the cut, and spiked attendance on the LPGA Tour -- Wie might be an even bigger draw in Asia.
 
She was born in Hawaii and has a Korean heritage, and she has spoken Japanese to Shigeki Maruyama while paired with him at a pro-am in the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua. And if the novelty of a 15-year-old girl who hits it a mile is starting to wear off in the United States, that isn't the case overseas.
 
``I went to her interview before the Women's British Open, and I couldn't believe how full the room was. It was overflowing,'' Leadbetter said. ``When Annika went in there, it was 25 percent full. The buzz for Michelle was amazing.''
 
Wie tied for third at the British Open, seven shots out of the lead. She was runner-up in another major, the LPGA Championship, finishing three shots behind Sorenstam.
 
It was part of a dynamic summer in which she was on the verge of making the cut at the John Deere Classic until a double bogey on the 16th hole; then reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links.
 
While she beat women routinely as a 10- and 11-year-old in Hawaii tournaments, her only substantial victory was the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links as a 13-year-old in 2003.
 
Lauletta is among those who believe Wie will have to win tournaments to sustain her marketability. But it's the potential that has allowed her to live up to the hype that surrounds her.
 
``The potential to dominate is what appeals to a lot of people,'' Lauletta said. ``One of the qualities she has is being the next big thing. When you're the next big thing, they want to notice you and see what it is. And she's that. There's no doubt about it.'
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

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Rory faces criticism

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President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

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Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm