Wies still pondering offers

WAILEA, Hawaii -- Ninth-grader Michelle Wie turned so many heads with her impressive performance at the Sony Open that her father said she has received seven more offers to play on the PGA Tour.

"Michelle's still thinking about it and what to do with it," B.J. Wie said Monday.

Wie fell a shot short of making the cut at the Sony Open after a second-round 68. Shortly after, she was offered a spot in the PGA Tour's Booz Allen Classic, but said she'd likely turn it down to defend her title at the U.S. Women's Public Links. It is not known which other PGA Tour events extended her invitations.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem does not see a problem if Wie
accepts another exemption, as long as she shows she can play.

"If a tournament gives sponsor exemptions to a player or an
individual who is clearly not competitive, just for publicity
purposes, that's something we wouldn't care to see," Finchem said.

"Michelle Wie played quite well and, at 14, if she continues to
develop, I'm not sure you can make the case that she's not
competitive when she misses the cut by a shot," he said.

Her 2004 schedule already includes several events competing against
women, and her parents promise this summer won't be as hectic as

"Last year, we made a mistake, because she played three
consecutive tournaments and she got so tired," B.J. Wie said.
"She's still young. She gets tired easily."

This year's itinerary is more spread out.

Wie is playing this week in the Hawaii Pearl Open, one of the
premier men's golf events in the state. Last year, she shot a
5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 43rd as the youngest
player and only female among 192 players, half of them from Japan.

After that, Wie travels to Phoenix for the Safeway
International, one of the strongest fields on the LPGA Tour,
followed by the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of
the year.

A year ago, Wie played in the final group at the Nabisco and
tied for ninth.

She also plans to play in the Michelob Ultra Open, Evian Masters
in France and Wendy's Championship on the LPGA Tour. Wie's amateur
schedule includes her defense of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public
Links and the U.S. Women's Amateur.

"I am going to have a lot of vacation this summer, not like
last year when it was continuous," she said. "When I go to
France, I'm going to have a week in Paris.

"So it's not going to be just all golf because I don't think
I'll be able to handle that."

Wie also is hopeful of making the U.S. Curtis Cup team, and she
will try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.

B.J. Wie said his daughter won't be able to play on her high
school golf team at the private Punahou School because her LPGA
schedule will force her to miss most of the high school events.

Last year, Wie played seven times on the LPGA Tour, missing the
cut just once. She missed the cut on the men's Canadian and
Nationwide tours, and her only victory in any event came at the
Women's Public Links, where she became the youngest winner of a
USGA event for adults.

This season, she said playing against the PGA Tour's best in the
Sony has helped her game and raised her expectations.

"It gave me a lot of confidence that I can play with these
guys," she said. "I think it's going to help on the LPGA because
some of the (men's) par 4s are a little shorter than the (women's)
par 5s.

"I just want to win one LPGA tournament and the USGA
tournaments," she said. "I want to win more tournaments because
last year my goal was to make the cut, this year I want to move

She already has one believer in Jack Nicklaus.

"She's terrific," Nicklaus said of Wie, his playing partner in
the pro-am for last weekend's Champions Skins competition in Maui.
"She's going to be something else.

"She doesn't swing a golf club like a woman. What I mean by
that is women have a hard time with less strength and transition to
put really something on it.

"She's strong and absolutely rips it. She has great control and
command of the golf club and that's what it takes, plus already at
14, she has a wonderful wedge game and putts well."

Nicklaus said he hopes Wie finishes her education and does the
things she needs to do to be "normal."

"If she's a normal human being, then she's got the chance to be
an exceptional athlete," he said. "If it goes the other way, then
you don't know what's going to happen to her. But I think her
parents have her feet on the ground, and I think she has her feet
on the ground."

Wie's classmates have realized her star power.

"They're just begging me not to change my autograph because
they say when they're 45 and needing a job they're going to sell my
stuff on eBay," Wie said.

B.J. Wie tried to dispel the perception that he is an
overbearing parent.

"Because she's highly visible on TV, it looks like she plays
golf everyday, but it's not true," he said "Some people believe
Michelle doesn't do anything outside golf and that's not true. She
does all kinds of things.

"She makes her own decisions -- where to play and what
tournament she wants to go," he said. "I present her a list of
tournaments and we schedule together."

Whether that schedule will include any more PGA Tour events in 2004 is apparently still up for debate.