Notes Pressel Fires Salvo at Wie


Morgan Pressel fired the first shot two weeks before the LPGA Tour even began.
During a conference call for the Fields Open in Hawaii, the 17-year-old rookie said Michelle Wie should have to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open instead of getting an exemption.
Several veterans were outraged when Wie got a a special exemption to the Women's Open in 2004, although she tied for 13th to earn a trip back. Last year, Wie was tied for the lead going into the final round at Cherry Hills until closing with an 82 to tie for 23rd. Only the top 20 and ties are exempt the following year.
Pressel, who tied for second at Cherry Hills, said she doesn't think Wie will get an exemption this time.
'I'd be very surprised, just because of what happened last time,' Pressel said. 'I don't think she needs an exemption. I've been through qualifying. Everybody who doesn't make it on the money list, other amateurs, other professionals that aren't members of the tour, they all have to go through qualifying, too.
'I don't see why she shouldn't, or why she should be afraid, or expect an exemption.'
Even so, USGA executive director David Fay sounded as though that were a possibility -- provided Wie 'earned' her exemption in the LPGA Tour events she plays before qualifying begins for the Open.
'She's not exempt now,' Fay said. 'But she's in limbo.'
The 16-year-old from Hawaii is exempt into the other three majors based on her '05 performance -- runner-up at the LPGA Championship and a tie for third at the Women's British Open.
Along with being the biggest draw in women's golf, one reason Wie received a special invitation in 2004 was because money she would have earned on the LPGA was equivalent to the top 35 on the LPGA money list, which is one of the criteria for being exempt.
Wie turned pro in October, although she is not a member of the LPGA Tour because of her age. Whatever money she earns does not appear on the money list. That's why Fay refers to her being in limbo.
'Let's say she were to do well enough in women's events she's going to be playing this winter and spring that if she were a member, her earnings would be such that she would be exempt,' Fay said. 'I think you'd be hard-pressed to explain why you wouldn't allow her to play.'
The only way for Wie to avoid qualifying is to win on the LPGA Tour, and her only two chances likely will be the Fields Open or the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Fay said for the USGA not to consider her earnings -- and where that puts her on the money list -- would be holding Wie's age against her.
'How else could she qualify without winning an event?' Fay said.
The USGA had its annual meeting over the weekend in Atlanta, and Fay said there has been no decision on a special invitation. But it sounds as though Wie will need to play well in her limited starts.
The record will show that Luke Donald tied for 52nd in the British Open, although barring a future victory, it might rank among his most memorable majors.
Donald played the first two rounds with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, who ended his major championship career at St. Andrews. Donald still has several pictures of the three as they crossed the Swilcan Bridge that Friday afternoon.
'They're sitting in Jack's locker at the Bear's Club waiting for him to sign when he goes there,' Donald said. 'He only plays there about twice a year, so we'll see how long that will take.'
More than the pictures or the commemorative bank notes of Nicklaus (four of those are waiting to be signed), Donald won't forget the scene walking up the final few holes.
'You're walking up the 18th, every window of every building there were people watching,' Donald said. 'I saw Ernie Els looking out on the 17th of the (Old Course) hotel. I mean, everyone was watching. This was a huge moment in golf, and to be playing with him was pretty special. It was a great treat.'
Michelle Wie might feel like she's at home in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Her family is buying a house at Bighorn Golf Club, where Wie made her professional debut at the Samsung World Championship in October. Bighorn is about 15 minutes away from Mission Hills, site of the LPGA's first major.
'We would like to use our Bighorn house as often as possible for Michelle's golf training and vacation,' said her father, B.J. Wie. 'It will also be very convenient to stay at Bighorn during the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Samsung World Championship.'
Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade have distributed $239,000 to more than 41 children's charities in New England through their annual CVS Charity Classic. The Andrade-Faxon Charities for Children also donated $100,000 to the Rhode Island chapter of the American Red Cross for families who fled from Hurricane Katrina. ... Morgan Pressel turned pro in November, but a car will have to wait for the 17-year-old senior in high school. 'I don't have my license,' she said last week. Pressel said Florida law requires a permit for one year, and she never got around to getting that until after the U.S. Women's Open.
Since his first full season in 1993, Phil Mickelson has gone only three years without winning on the West Coast swing. Two of those years (1999, 2003), he ended the season without a PGA Tour victory.
'Most people work all their life to be able to retire and play golf. I've played golf all my life to retire and go to work.' -- Jack Nicklaus.
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