Notes Many LPGA Events Will Vie for Wie Sweepstakes


PALM DESERT, Calif. -- LPGA Tour officials have been looking at the criteria for the Kraft Nabisco Championship over the last few weeks. All they need now is time to meet with everyone involved before announcing Michelle Wie will be eligible for the first major of next year.
``I've been told they're going to work to get her in,'' said her agent, Ross Berlin.
Wie almost certainly will be joined at Mission Hills by Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang, all of whom are otherwise eligible because of high finishes in the majors.
The problem was language in the contract that required them to be LPGA Tour members. Pressel cannot join the tour until her 18th birthday in May, while Wie has no intentions of joining for two years.
But LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said last week that the Kraft Nabisco contract is 20 years old and needs to be updated, adding that ``I'm fairly certain'' Wie will be allowed to play.
Tour officials looked closely at the spirit of the contract, and realized there was some flexibility in the exemptions Kraft Nabisco typically doles out in the limited-field tournament. Rob Neal, vice president of tournament business affairs, said the Kraft contract won't be changed but will be updated to accommodate Wie and Pressel.
``This is an unprecedented situation,'' Neal said, referring to qualified teenagers who have turned pro without being LPGA members. ``The intention is they would love for these players to get in. It's really sitting down and making sure the spirit of the contract is met as we define the criteria into 2006.''
The rest of Wie's schedule might not be so simple to figure out.
She is allowed six LPGA Tour exemptions -- that doesn't include the U.S. Women's Open or the Women's British Open -- which could turn into a sweepstakes because of Wie's popularity.
Tiger Woods brought financial gain to PGA Tour events he played when he was living off sponsor exemptions, but he was trying to make enough money to get his card without going to Q-school. Woods needed those tournaments as much as they needed him.
That's not the case with Wie, who doesn't plan to join the LPGA Tour until she's 18.
Does she stay loyal to tournaments that have given her exemptions, such as the Wendy's Championship, Safeway International and Kingsmill? Or does she look at tournaments with the best fields and biggest purses that fit around a complicated schedule?
``We have close relationships with a lot of sponsors that have helped her before,'' said her father, B.J. Wie. ``It will be a tough decision. Her school schedule comes first, but sometimes we will feel obligated. She only has six choices.''
One casualty could be the Safeway International, which will be played March 16-19 and is the week before Wie goes on spring break. The week after her break is the Kraft Nabisco.
As for the rest of the year? Berlin said they have not decided where she is playing on any of the tours, although he expects her to play between 11 and 15 events.
Ryan Moore tied for 16th in Las Vegas and now has $598,249, which would be equivalent to 120th place on the PGA Tour. His earnings need to be at least equal to No. 125 at the end of the year to become the first player since Tiger Woods to earn his card without going to Q-school.
There are only three tournaments left in the season -- the Funai Classic at Disney this week, the Chrysler Championship near Tampa, Fla., and the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, which was delayed by Hurricane Katrina.
Moore wasn't the only one who made up ground in Las Vegas.
Nick Watney shot 66 Sunday for a career-best tie for sixth, moving him from 143rd to 118th on the money list. Briny Baird was 7-under 29 on the back nine Sunday to tie for eighth and move from No. 132 to No. 116, where he should be safe. Harrison Frazar secured his card with a tie for third, moving from No. 122 to No. 96.
Up the food chain, Charles Howell III was fifth in Las Vegas and moved up 12 spots to No. 30 on the money list as he tries to qualify for the Tour Championship. If nothing else, it probably secured Howell a spot in the Masters next year.
Moving up to No. 2 on the LPGA Tour money list gave Paula Creamer the first shot at representing the United States in the Women's World Cup next year in South Africa.
The 19-year-old rookie doubts she will make up her mind until the season-ending ADT Championship next month -- not only whether she plays, but who would be her partner. If she declines, the choice goes to Cristie Kerr.
Annika Sorenstam confirmed she would play, taking Liselotte Neumann as her partner.
Chris DiMarco was the star of the show at the Presidents Cup. Not only did he go 4-0-1 and sink the winning putt. He was the best American player in the all-important table tennis tournament.
All the talk is usually who wins between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
But Woods wrote on his Web site last week that DiMarco beat him in the finals of the round-robin tournament.
``Chris might have a second career in table tennis, he's that good,'' Woods said. ``His hand-eye coordination is amazing, and he puts a lot of spin on the ball.''
As for Woods vs. Mickelson?
One person in the room said Woods won the first game, then the second. Mickelson asked to make it best three-out-of-five and won the third game, at which point Woods put down the paddle and said, ``I win, 2-1.''
Nike Golf has entered the women's golf ball category with ``Super Lady,'' designed to produce higher trajectory shots. ... Jay Haas and Bill Haas are on their respective bubbles. Jay Haas is 30th on the Champions Tour money list and needs to stay there to qualify for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Bill Haas is 21st on the Nationwide Tour money list, with PGA Tour cards going to the top 21 players. ... The European tour will try to keep weekends uncluttered by reducing the number of players who make the 36-hole cut to the top 65 and ties. ... Sergio Garcia of Spain is the only player from the top 10 in the world ranking who will play in the World Cup next month in Portugal.
Jay Haas has earned $512,153 playing eight times on the Champions Tour. He has made $485,109 in twice as many starts on the PGA Tour.
``I was only there for two days, so it's tough for me to tell.'' -- Annika Sorenstam, when asked what it takes for a woman to succeed on the PGA Tour.
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