Let Michelle Mania Begin

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So now the other shoe has dropped. Another PGA Tour event will invite Michelle Wie to play in its tournament. This was the news out of our nations frigid Beltway Tuesday.
 
Specifically, the Booz Allen Classic is poised to offer the 14-year-old Wie a sponsors exemption for its tournament June 24-27 at the TPC at Avenel in Potomac, Md.
 
None of this should come as a surprise, despite the fact that many people still havent figured out what the best mens tour in the world is doing extending invitations to girls. Fact is, the 6-foot Wie doesnt play like a girl. Or a boy, for that matter. She plays like an adult. Last week she shot 72-68 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and missed the cut by one shot. She also generated millions of dollars of free publicity for the tournament, the tour and the title sponsor.
 
From a sponsors perspective, this is exactly what youre looking for, John Kaczkowski told me late Monday. You get increased newspaper coverage and increased television coverage. Kaczkowski is the tournament director for the Cialis Western Open.
 
Another tournament director told me Monday he would be shocked if Wie didnt receive more sponsors exemption invites for PGA Tour events before the season ends. The first of them is expected to come as soon as Kemper Sports, the company that manages Booz Allens tournament, meets with Wie and her father in Hawaii.
 
B.J. Wie told me Tuesday he hadnt heard from the Kemper Sports people. He pointed out that the Booz Allen Classic dates conflict with the Womens Amateur Public Links Championship where Michelle Wie is the defending champion. B.J. Wie said his daughter has forged a very close relationship with Rhonda Glenn and Barbara Romack, two women instrumental in the staging of the WAPL.
 
They (Romack and Glenn) would be very disappointed if Michelle didnt play in their tournament, the father said. I dont think she will disappoint them.
 
But, he added, the final decision will be Michelles. PGA Tour rules allow a player to accept up to seven sponsors exemptions in a season. B.J. Wie already has said his daughter will accept the limit of six LPGA sponsors exemptions this year.
 
The gold rush is on. Everybodys trying to stake a claim on Michelle Wie. Michelle Mania.
 
As one tournament director put it, Michelles got Annikas game and Suzys smile. Annika Sorenstam, the best woman golfer in the world, played in the mens Bank of America Colonial in May. Suzy Whaley, a club pro, played in the mens Buick Championship last year. Both missed the cut.
 
Dan Baker, tournament director for the Buick Championship, said his tournament has a standing policy that it will only extend sponsors exemptions to players that request them. But, he added, If she applied, wed have to take it under consideration.
 
Judy McDermott, the tournament director for the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, warned of a circus atmosphere that could follow Wie. But if this will make more little kids pick up golf clubs, McDermott said, more power to her. Its a neat story that way.
 
Its a neat story. Its a big story. And its growing.
 
Tuesday Peter Dawson, the Royal & Ancient secretary, told Reuters that he would never say never about a possible change in the R&As long-standing policy of prohibiting women from playing in the British Open Championship.
 
We would be very unwise not to review our entry criteria over the years ahead, he said.
 
Heres my take on all of this: For the people who have been searching for the next Tiger Woods, they may have been looking in the wrong locker room. But, more importantly, to all those people who are saying Wies emergence will open the floodgates for more like her, its time to back way off.
 
There is only one Michael Jordan. There is only one Woods. Its appearing a little more each day that there might just be one Michelle Wie.
 
We should enjoy her. And we must be careful to allow her to enjoy herself.
 
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