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All Eyes Focused On Michelle

Posted July. 01, 2004 22:24,   


Can Michelle Wie (14, Wie Sung-mi), the “Golf genius,” calm the furor over the appropriateness of her exemption from the U.S. Women’s Regional Preliminary Match?

Michelle Wie played in the 59th U.S. Women’s Open Competition (the total prize of this game is 3.1 million dollar), held in Orchards Green Course (par 71), without playing the preliminary match. It was the first time that the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) granted preferential treatment of regional preliminary match exemption to an amateur.

As the quarrel continues, the U.S. Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) took an online survey on Thursday regarding the “quarrel over the preferential treatment.”

As a result, an overwhelming 71.4 percent of respondents said that “exempting Michelle Wie in the preliminary match was ok,” while only 28.6 percent responded that “it was wrong.” Close to 91 percent said “Michelle Wie will make a cut in the tournament” and there were 9 percent of her fans who said that “there is a possibility that Wie may even win.” In particular, 74 percent answered “yes” to a question asking “has the U.S. Open attracted more public interest because of Michelle Wie’s participation?”

It showed that it worked for the USGA to use Michelle Wie to attract a larger audience. Still, 50.5 percent expressed concern regarding Michelle’s father, Wie Byong-wook (44. a professor at Hawaii University) who took a role as a caddy for his daughter, saying that “it was not a good decision.”

However, Michelle’s competitors and some golf experts are expressing disagreement, saying, “The USGA’s decision was not fair.”

Doug Furguson, a golf reporter for the Associated Press, pointed out in his column that “Michelle Wie is the most famous teenage golf player. Still, it cannot be said that she is the best player.” He mentioned Morgan Pressel (16, U.S.), who beat Michelle Wie in last year’s U.S. Junior Women’s Championship, and Tseng Ya-ni (15, Taiwan), who stopped Michelle’s second consecutive win in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship held on June 28. Both dropped out in the U.S. Women’s Open Regional Preliminary Match.

Paula Creamer (17), a U.S. ace national representative who is expected to compete with Michelle for the amateur championship in this competition, said, “I don’t think Michelle is a better player than I. I beat her in both of the previous two games.” She had to play in the preliminary match to participate in this game.

The only way for Michelle Wie, the “super girl” who made a record underpar (2 underpar, 68) score for the first time in the U.S. PGA Tour Regular Competition (Year 2004 Sony Open Second Round) and the biggest news maker in international women’s golf, to put to rest the quarrel over her preferential treatment is her score in this game.

Will she gain a score better than in the Nabisco Championship (where she finished 4th in the final standings), the first major competition this year? Or will she drop her head down after the cutoff? Michelle Wie recorded a shared 39th rank (14 overpar, 298) in the U.S. Women’s Open Competition which she participated after passing the regional preliminary match last year.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com