All Eyes on Wie as She Prepares to Turn Pro

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Everywhere she goes, people can't help but notice Michelle Wie.
 
As a 13-year-old still wearing a retainer, she was warming up on the practice range for a junior pro-am at the Sony Open in Honolulu. When she pulled out her driver, five PGA Tour players on both sides of her stopped to watch her launch tee shots that approached the 300-yard marker.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will reportedly make upwards of $10 million just by turning pro.
Last year in Portugal, where Wie received the Laureus World Newcomer of the Year award, she walked into the banquet room filled with celebrities that included as Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Placido Domingo.
 
``Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and watched her go to her table,'' said Greg Nared, a Nike business manager who has been tracking Wie the last two years. ``That told me a lot.''
 
The 15-year-old from Hawaii who commands so much attention is on the verge of commanding top money. Wie is about to turn pro, and endorsements estimated to be worth as much as $10 million a year await.
 
Two sources close to Wie, speaking on condition of anonymity because she is still an amateur, said the announcement will not be made until endorsement deals are signed.
 
That could be done before the Samsung World Championship, which starts Oct. 13, two days after her 16th birthday. It will be the eighth and final LPGA Tour event Wie plays this year.
 
``There is nothing to say until everything is completed,'' her father, B.J. Wie, said Wednesday.
 
He added that ``we are getting close,'' but said her decision to turn pro would not be related to Samsung.
 
``It doesn't have to be associated with a tournament she would play,'' the father said. ``There is no target date we have to meet.''
 
When it happens, she will be the highest-paid female golfer in the world.
 
One deal that is nearing completion is with Nike, which is no surprise. Wie has been playing its irons and golf ball the last two years, and often wears the swoosh on her clothing. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said the deal could be worth anywhere from $4 million to $5 million a year.
 
She also is working on a deal with an Asian-based electronics company that could be worth about $3 million a year. Golf World magazine reported another possible endorsement with an airline company.
 
Annika Sorenstam, the best player in women's golf, makes about $7 million a year in endorsements. No other female golfer is remotely close.
 
``Did I hear she might make $10 million a year?'' David Toms said Wednesday. ``I'd like to get half that much. And I've won a tournament.''
 
Early projections were that Wie could command up to $20 million a year in endorsements, and her potential earnings could surpass that. But the family is starting slowly and conservatively, in part because Wie still has two years left before she graduates Punahou School in Honolulu.
 
``If I was handling the strategy, it would be a five- to eight-year strategy,'' said Steve Lauletta, who ran Miller Brewing's sports marketing for 10 years and now is president of Omnicom's Radiate Sports Group. ``Maybe you do one or two now, and 24 months down the road, you add another one or two. Not only are there commitments with school, but she's so young. You're interacting with corporate CEOs, older persons.
 
``She might not be as comfortable talking to them as she will be five years down the road.''
 
B.J. Wie declined to discuss endorsement opportunities, but he noted that his daughter -- who made straight A's in the spring semester while playing three LPGA Tour events -- wants to graduate with her class and still wants to purse a business degree, preferably at Stanford.
 
``She wants to complete her schooling and be in control of her own business empire,'' swing coach David Leadbetter said. ``I would say there's no question she's got some great goals, more than being a golfer. She's learning Chinese, Japanese. She soaks up so much information.''
 
Her golf plans are a little more clear.
 
Those plans took root in January, as Wie was getting ready to play in the Sony Open for the second straight year. Her father spoke that day of her becoming a global golfer, with a base on the LPGA Tour, but also taking her game to Europe and Asia to compete against men and women.
 
As popular as she is in the United States -- record crowds at the John Deere Classic, where she nearly made the cut, and spiked attendance on the LPGA Tour -- Wie might be an even bigger draw in Asia.
 
She was born in Hawaii and has a Korean heritage, and she has spoken Japanese to Shigeki Maruyama while paired with him at a pro-am in the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua. And if the novelty of a 15-year-old girl who hits it a mile is starting to wear off in the United States, that isn't the case overseas.
 
``I went to her interview before the Women's British Open, and I couldn't believe how full the room was. It was overflowing,'' Leadbetter said. ``When Annika went in there, it was 25 percent full. The buzz for Michelle was amazing.''
 
Wie tied for third at the British Open, seven shots out of the lead. She was runner-up in another major, the LPGA Championship, finishing three shots behind Sorenstam.
 
It was part of a dynamic summer in which she was on the verge of making the cut at the John Deere Classic until a double bogey on the 16th hole; then reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links.
 
While she beat women routinely as a 10- and 11-year-old in Hawaii tournaments, her only substantial victory was the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links as a 13-year-old in 2003.
 
Lauletta is among those who believe Wie will have to win tournaments to sustain her marketability. But it's the potential that has allowed her to live up to the hype that surrounds her.
 
``The potential to dominate is what appeals to a lot of people,'' Lauletta said. ``One of the qualities she has is being the next big thing. When you're the next big thing, they want to notice you and see what it is. And she's that. There's no doubt about it.'
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

 

“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

 

“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

 

Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.