Wie May Face Big Decision


For those of you who like to look into the future, heres one for you: Michelle Wie is going to have to decide which one will it be ' the LPGA or the PGA Tour ' when she becomes eligible for the pro tours at age 18.
There wont be any playing both at the same time. That point was brought out at a news conference this week. New LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens reiterated for those who dont know (and I didnt) the LPGAs longstanding prohibition:
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will face not only some tough shots over the next couple of years, but some tough decisions as well.
If she joins the LPGA, said Bivens, she would have to play 10 events and she could only get two exemptions for events that took place that competed with the LPGA.
In other words, on weeks when the LPGA is playing, Wie could only play in two PGA Tour events (or any other events, for that matter). According to my calculations, the PGA Tour only has 10 weeks that the LPGA is not playing. And Michelle must play in 15 events to be a PGA Tour member.
Of course, who says that Wie wants to do both? She has the rather formidable task of somehow qualifying for the PGA Tour ' LPGA, too, for that matter, although for arguments sake that point isnt considered here.
Granted, the two tours schedules may ' and probably will ' look far different in 2007 from what they do now. Thats when the PGA Tour will begin playing a new schedule, one that will bear no resemblance to now, if we are to believe several observers.
But, Michelles list of PGA Tour tournaments would be mostly confined to events in the West, if we were going by this years schedule. She couldnt play in the Mercedes Championships ' that is for winners from the previous year. The first event she could play would be the Sony ' as it is now.
From there, the Buick Invitational, the Bob Hope Chrysler, the FBR Open near Phoenix, the Pebble Beach AT&T and the Nissan Open are all open to Wie hypothetically. The LPGA cranks up with the SBS Open in Wies native Hawaii the last week in February. Thats where she would ' again, hypothetically - hit the big roadblock.
But were just dreaming, OK? So lets dream a little further. Thats six tournaments so far. It would be foolish to expect Michelle to play six weeks in a row, of course. So lets say she could get in a maximum of five.
This year the LPGA was idle the week of the Honda Classic. OK, well slot her in there is our imaginary little game. Thats six. And there was no LPGA event opposite the BellSouth in Atlanta. The LPGA also doesnt play the week of the Masters, but we wont consider that one until ' if ' Wie makes it. But so far, so good ' shes up to seven events.
Now, the going really gets tough. The LPGA was busy every week until the first of August, the week of the International. But, lets say she plays the International ' and she now has eight events.
The next week is the PGA Championship. The LPGA was idle that week this year, but remember ' the PGA is a major. And the LPGA doesnt have another week off until the last week of September. Wie could play again in the Texas Open ' thats nine.
There is only one other week when the LPGA isnt playing ' the week of the Funai Classic at Disney. And thats 10.
Now, the LPGA would give Wie two tournaments to play whatever ' in this case the PGA Tour. But that still is only 12. And remember, she has to play in 15 events to keep PGA Tour membership.
Of course, this is taken from the 2005 schedule only. The schedule for 2007 might be quite a bit different. But remember, for it to be any help for Wie, the LPGA would have to play fewer events ' NOT the PGA. And the LPGA is looking to add a few tournaments ' not subtract them.
In short, count out the hope of Michelle playing fulltime on both tours. Its much more likely that she will continue to play a schedule such as she has now ' up to eight LPGA tournaments without becoming a member, up to seven on the PGA Tour. She wont belong to either organization, of course, but then she can pick and choose tournaments. That is, pick and choose the ones that offer her a sponsor's exemption.
In two years, though, at the end of 2007 when she has finished high school, Wie might well have decided on one tour ' LPGA or, if she makes it, the PGA Tour. But ' she is going to have to come to that decision.
If she chooses to be a member of the (LPGA) Tour, there are some guidelines, Bivens said. Sponsors and partners put up money to run events and put purses up and they want top money winners to show up.
If somebody wants to just dip in and out and go play in a competing event, that really hurts the association. We would be better off with the course that Michelle has chosen, and I don't think you are going to hear any of us saying if what Michelle wants to do is compete against the men, and occasionally play on the LPGA, all of those options are open. That's perfectly fine.
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