Wies Future Wide Open

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The PGA Tour moves on to Southern California this week and that lingering contrail in its rear-view mirror is the growing phenomenon that is Michelle Wie.
 
In case you live on Pluto or happened to spend the last week reading the collected works of Boris Pasternak, Wie is the six-foot tall 14-year-old ninth grade girl who missed the cut at the Sony Open Friday by one shot.
 
Wie is also the precocious talent who has brought all golfs thinkers--deep and shallow--out of the woodwork. What did her flirtation with the weekend on a tour normally peopled by the worlds best men players mean?
 
For starters, it means that more tournament directors will be considering extending sponsors exemptions to Wie this year. Already it has been reported two tournaments have decided to invite her. I spoke with Michelle Wies father, B.J., late Sunday and he said he hadnt received any new invitations to PGA Tour events. Yet.
 
And if she does receive one?
 
We would be extremely conservative and cautious, B.J. Wie said. Very, very cautious. I have already accepted sponsors exemptions for six LPGA events and that will not change.
 
Six, by the way, is the limit for sponsors exemptions on the LPGA. Asked the same question about playing in more mens events in her Friday press conference after shooting a remarkable 2-under 68 at a Waialae track stretched to more than 7,000 yards, Michelle Wie said she would consider it if she had the time.
 
Give the Wie family high marks for taking great care with her schedule. Remember, she is still just a high school freshman. She is still an amateur. And she doesnt have a high-powered and world-wise management company like IMG advising her on how best to sail the uncharted waters in which she finds herself.
 
This much is certain: She can command an audience. Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world, did the same last May in Fort Worth when she played against the men in the Bank of America Colonial. She missed the cut but earned respect. The media was there in droves, though mostly because of the novelty of the thing.
 
The media did not turn out in droves for Wies PGA Tour debut. But that didnt stop the players on the PGA Tour from flat-out gawking at Wies swing, her length off the tee, her short game and her decision-making. It seemed boring out there today, Davis Love III said Saturday, referring to Wies departure from the field.
 
B.J. Wie said his daughter enjoyed herself immensely. But you didnt need to hear that from him if you watched the telecast of her Friday round. She is focused and serious about the task at hand. But she plays the game with an unbridled joy. No one has pushed her into this position.
 
B.J. Wie is of Korean descent. So is his wife, Bo. The three of them - father, mother and daughter - are extremely close. And they havent forgotten their roots. B.J. Wie told me that he was glad nobody lost face at the Sony Open. He included in that observation the governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, and the Japanese-based sponsor, Sony.
 
When I asked Michelle Wies parents who she most idolized - Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam - they answered Tiger in unison and without hesitation.
 
And then, Bo added, Ernie Els.
 
So Wie has set her sights high. She wants to be able to play any tour she chooses. After what we saw this weekend, it is difficult to argue against that possibility. Anybody who does is in denial.
 
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