Wie won't give up on PGA play

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

When Annika Sorenstam scratched that itch at Colonial, satisfying her desire to play in a top-level men's PGA Tour event, she walked away and never has been back.

At the end of that amazing two-day dalliance, she realized that, for her, the experiment was over. She missed the cut, not by much, but she also recognized the chasm that exists between men's and women's professional golf.

"I'm going back where I belong," she said. Back in her LPGA world, she has dominated as no other.

Michelle Wie probably is too young, maybe a bit too stubborn and maybe even too talented to make that admission herself. She intends to spend her career with a foot in both worlds, ignoring her critics of both gender.

She's in the field today for the third consecutive year at the Sony Open in her home state of Hawaii, a tournament she'll probably play every year of her competitive life, especially since Sony is one of her sponsors.

Sarnia's Mike Weir also is making his season debut today and Oshawa's Jon Mills is making his first start as a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour.

For Weir, who will turn 36 this year, the next few weeks will be important as he tries to once again get back to top-10 status. He has been working hard at his game since the end of October in preparation for the new season.

Wie, at 16, now has played in half a dozen men's events during the past couple of years without making a cut. Still, she persists and insists that this is a perfect training ground for her, even though she hasn't won yet on the LPGA Tour.

"Playing more men's events will help me to win in women's events because all the practice rounds with the men help me to be a better player overall," she said Tuesday. "To compete here, you have to be a good overall player. With this experience and knowledge, I think it will help me win women's events."

Unfortunately, the novelty of her pursuit is wearing off. More and more, people need to see her take this to another level, at least make a cut. If not, she may need to take a step back and spend some more time developing her game, her confidence and her ability to close the deal on Sunday on the LPGA Tour before she once again takes on the men.

She has been a pro for a few months now and still hasn't cashed a cheque, except from her deep-pocketed sponsors, like Nike. She's hearing about it from men, she's hearing it from women. She's even hearing it from fellow teenagers, like Morgan Pressel, the reigning U.S. Women's amateur champ whose sure to be a Wie rival for the next couple of decades.

"I'm shocked there wasn't more talk about Wie's final round 82 (at the U.S. Open)," Pressel told GolfWorld Magazine. "Are the press and other players just trying to be politically correct? I don't believe in being politically correct. Michelle hasn't played a lot of junior golf so she hasn't learned how to finish tournaments."

Those thoughts echo those of Tiger Woods, who always has maintained that his success isn't just the result of talent or even of hard work, though both are important parts of his persona.

"I learned very young about winning and the importance of winning," Woods said when talking about Wie last year. "It was an important part of my education and development."

Even her dad is getting a little impatient.

"She obviously needs to win on the LPGA Tour," he told a Honolulu newspaper.

Wie is unmoved, however. She is, after all, just 16 and very much enjoying her life as a high school kid; a high school kid pulling down seven figures in her part-time job.

"My friends have been making fun of me with all the money jokes," she said. "It has been pretty normal. People don't treat me any differently at school and I'm glad about that. Sometimes I forget my lunch money and my friends have to buy my lunch."

Heck, playing the Sony Open isn't even the biggest test she's going to face in the next week. Tuesday she goes for her driver's licence.

Now that's pressure.

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WIE TALK

"Playing more men's events will help me to win in women's events because all the practice rounds with the men help me to be a better player overall."

Michelle Wie

"I'm shocked there wasn't more talk about Wie's final round 82 (at the U.S. Open). Are the press and other players just trying to be politically correct?"

Morgan Pressel, the reigning U.S. Women's amateur champ

"I learned very young about winning and the importance of winning."

Tiger Woods said when talking about Wie last year

"She obviously needs to win on the LPGA Tour."

Wie's dad


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