Wie's final test is deportment

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

Michelle Wie strung together some good rounds at the LPGA qualifying school, which concluded yesterday with Wie tied for seventh at 12-under for the tournament.

The woman-child we watched grow up is a big girl now with her own tour card and the capability to deliver on that enormous potential, without the withdrawals, DQs and silliness that plagued a potentially magnificent kid career.

That's in the past, but the immediate future is the concern, not only for the LPGA Tour, but the mighty PGA Tour as well.

The fact that half a million jobs were lost in the United States and close to 71,000 in Canada last month clearly illustrates how sharp the knife is out there, so what comes first -- golf sponsorships or people's jobs?

If you attended the CN Canadian Women's Open this year, you saw the magnet that Wie is for crowds and that marketing potential will do more good on a tour that is without Annika Sorenstam than one that has Tiger Woods returning.

Even if Wie did make a cut on the PGA Tour, she still wouldn't make an impact and the sponsor's exemptions there would begin to dry up when she isn't a long-hitting teenager anymore. Her 20th birthday comes next year and it's time she started making decisions on her own.

Unlike many others these days, the Big Wiesy now has a full-time job on the LPGA Tour and that means making a commitment to the product and the people you work with, even if you've already made enough money to retire by most people's standards and to call your own shots.

The LPGA Tour needs a dedicated Wie and let's hope her professional pride starts to kick in at a time when the tour has lost three tournaments over last year and witnessed a drop in the overall money available to players. That's just the beginning of troubling times.

Wie doesn't even need to dominate the LPGA Tour as she might do when Lorena Ochoa retires and the Mexican star has hinted that may not be far off, perhaps when Wie is only about 25.

However, even if Wie is a consistent contender along with other top tour stars, her presence will go a long way with all of her talent, charisma and, let's be honest, good looks.

Wie passed a big test at Q-school, but the final exam is in deportment.

OVER-REGULATION

There was a sigh of relief from the golf industry and resentment from the anti-pesticide crowd when Bill 64 banned the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in Ontario last June.

The bill allows golf courses to use pesticides, which led those who want a total ban to say that golf is a game played by the wealthy, so influence played an important role in this exemption.

What that emotional crowd didn't point out is that golf courses were facing new, stricter conditions. Those regulations have been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights website, www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/. The posting number is 010-5080.

Superintendents, owners and the golf industry, in general, can live with some of the conditions, but plan to challenge at least one portion and ask people in the golf industry and those who play the game to get involved.

What golf can live with is mandatory Integrated Pest Management (IPM), something it has promoted for years, and an annual pesticide usage report from each golf course.

That report will include the quantity of all active ingredients applied each year, how much the quantities differ from the previous year and why and how IPM minimized pesticide use in the current year and how it will reduce use the following year.

A map of the golf course showing where pesticides were applied also will need to be submitted with the report for posting on a public website.

Even with that extra burden placed on superintendents, the golf industry is willing to go along with that, but pesticides historically have been an emotional issue, so typical government over-regulation sets in.

In addition to this report, golf courses, in a tough economy, will be required to advertise and send out invitations to all occupants within 100 metres of a golf facility for an annual meeting to discuss its pesticide usage report. Public access to the property to read the report also is mandatory.

Golfers and those who work within the golf industry can make their feelings known by faxing Robert Bilyea, senior policy advisor for the Ministry of the Environment at (416) 314-2976.


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