When Michelle Wie turns 16 in October, will she turn pro on the same day she becomes eligible to drive a car?
The pieces, bit by bit, are starting to come into focus more clearly. There is nothing official yet from the Wie camp or the myriad of manufacturers and management companies who covet her signature.
But more and more its looking like the Samsung World Championship Oct. 13-16 will be her official Hello World coming out party. A Hawaii newspaper openly speculated as much the day after Wie missed the cut at the recent John Deere Classic. And B.J. Wie, Michelles father, didnt knock down the story at that time.
LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw told me last week that it wouldnt shock him if Wie turned professional and did NOT petition for membership to the LPGA.
Wie insiders say she can play up to eight events a year on the LPGA Tour without membership. Toss in another seven on the PGA Tour through special exemptions and the schedule starts to fill up quite nicely. As a pro, Wie would also be able to accept appearance fee money for overseas events. Yen, for example, converts quite nicely to dollars thank you very much.
Not being tied down to the LPGA or the PGA tours would give Wie the flexibility to control her own schedule in the immediate and intermediate future.
More recently Golfweek magazine speculated that Nike Golf will sign Wie and that IMG is a leading candidate to be her management firm. Golfweek, too, noted October and the Samsung event, which will be played at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., as a likely time and place.
These scenarios also allow Wie to stay in school if she so chooses. She is scheduled to begin her junior year at the Punahou School in Hawaii. She has stated she eventually wants to attend Stanford University.
One source told me there was a deal cooking where Wie would play professionally 15 events a year as a college student and practice with the Stanford team as a non-member. There is even a scenario out there in which she would sign a deal with a company that would provide 300 hours a year of private jet time.
Its all very heady stuff. And B. J. Wie is a very heady man. He knows the commercial iron is hot and there has never been a better time to strike on the endorsement front.
But B.J. and his wife, Bo, are also good parents. I take both of them at their word when they say they wont commit their daughter to anything she isnt totally on board with.
The international interest in Michelle Wie, at the moment, transcends golf. If this were a perfect world, heres what Id like to see happen with regards to Michelle:
Id like to see her sit down privately with Tiger Woods and ask him all the questions she can think of and a few more to boot. Then I would like to see Tiger give her his opinion of her future.
Nobody in golf knows better what lies ahead for Michelle Wie.
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