European Perspective


Michelle Wie will play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters next week. The newly crowned Lorena Ochoa Invitational champion will travel to the Middle East on Friday. Wie withdrew from the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship two weeks ago after the first round, sighting an obvious ankle problem, but her agent told Golf Channel that she’s feeling better and looking forward to her trip halfway around the world.

Hopefully Wie isn’t afraid of heights. Before the event begins, she will take a promotional trip up the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Dubai, and hit a golf ball from the 168th floor.

A handful of the LET members at this week’s LPGA Qualifying Tournament are due to join Wie in Dubai. Gwladys Nocera said she will rush to the airport on Sunday to catch a flight to Atlanta, then to Paris and onto Dubai in time for a light practice before Wednesday’s first round. The weather in Florida may put those plans in jeopardy as rain and possible storms are lingering in the forecast for Friday and Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Azahara Munoz, the Ladies British Amateur champion and winner of the Madrid Ladies Masters on the LET, her first professional start on the tour, will not be going to Dubai. She was under the impression she had to go through LPGA orientation for new members on Monday. What she didn’t realize was that the tour made an exemption for players in the field for Dubai.

On the men’s side, European Tour Qualifying School concluded Thursday with Simon Khan taking the top spot. Walker Cup player Sam Hutsby finished second to cement his playing rights to the tour next season. At 20 years of age, Hutsby falls into the “ones to watch” category. Among the notable qualifiers:

– Stephen Gallacher battled a viral infection this year that took him out of the game for six weeks but the Scotsman had a limited medical exemption next season and now is fully exempt.

– Anton Haig, the big hitting South African’s game deserted him following his breakout win at the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2007 and this year he finished 235th in the Race to Dubai. Haig carded a final-round 71 to finish T-16 and is in for next season which begins next week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in his homeland.

– Jarmo Sandelin, a five-time tour winner and ’99 Ryder Cup team member kept his playing privileges with a T-16 finish. Sandelin is one of the tour’s characters and his absence would have been noticed.

Despite promises to the contrary earlier in the year, the European Tour will again begin its new season in the preceding year when the Alfred Dunhill Championship begins on Thursday at Leopard Creek. The tour recently released a schedule through the Masters but expect the full European Tour schedule to be released before the Dunhill begins.