Commissioner Ty Votaw said Tuesday the 6-foot Hawaiian has some growing to do before she reaches Sorenstam's elite status.
'She hasn't won 48 times, she's not in the LPGA Hall of Fame and she hasn't won six Vare trophies,' Votaw said. 'She hasn't had a career Grand Slam, she hasn't been Player of the Year multiple times in a 10-year period. But, if she continues to develop as a person and a player, she has a vast amount of potential to match those accomplishments.'
The 14-year-old Wie and 33-year-old Sorenstam will compete in the same field for the third time when the Safeway International takes place next month at Superstition Mountain, a new venue east of downtown. Sorenstam shot a LPGA-record 59 on her way to the 2001 Phoenix title at Moon Valley Country Club.
The first time they met, Wie nearly upstaged the Swedish star by making the cut and reaching the final threesome at last year's Kraft Nabisco. But she faded to a 76, and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc outdueled Sorenstam down the stretch to win the major.
Six months later, Wie tied for 28th in Portland while Sorenstam won.
Wie has gained popularity with forays into men's golf this year, missing the cut by a stroke in the Sony Open last month and tying for 38th at the Hawaii Pearl Open on Sunday.
Votaw, who made his comments during the Phoenix tournament kickoff, said he was not knocking the ninth-grader and acknowledged she is good for the game.
'Certainly having more people at our events is one of the things that our five-year business plan is geared around,' he said.
Judy Rankin, introduced as the Wie of the 1960s for feats like winning the 1959 Missouri Amateur at 14 and finishing as the low amateur in the U.S. Women's Open the next year, attended the kickoff to accept the Linda Vollstedt Award for service and leadership in women's sports.
Rankin learned from playing alongside men, but never entertained a thought about competing against them and never tried to play from men's tournament tees. But she said Wie's power has her attention.
'There are these very few people who come along every era or period of time that are not just standouts but are so exceptional that everybody wants to get a glimpse,' said Rankin, a 26-time winner who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. 'Certainly Tiger (Woods) was that way, although everybody thought when Tiger was 14 that this was a long, strong, savvy, smart kid who didn't quite have the game under control.
'(Wie) seems to be in a little different place at a little different age.'
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