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“Golden Girl” Michelle Wie Could Turn Pro Next Week

Posted September. 22, 2005 07:44,   


“Golf Prodigy” Michelle Wie (15, Korean name: Wie Sung-mi, photo) has started the countdown to become a professional golfer.

The September 23 edition of the U.S. weekly golf magazine “Golf World” reported that Michelle Wie will declare that she will turn pro next week at the earliest. ESPN and CNNSI, two U.S. Internet sites exclusively dedicated to sports, also reported the above on September 21.

Michelle Wie has initially planned to turn pro on October 11, her 16th birthday, and participate in the Samsung World Championship (LPGA Tour) to be held in Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California starting October 13.

It is speculated that Michelle Wie advanced her schedule because a sponsorship contract reached its final stage earlier than expected, and to avoid complications that might arise from her change from amateur to professional.

Michelle Wie is reportedly in the final stage of contract talks with Nike, Samsung Electronics Corporation, and a U.S. airline. It is expected that she could make $8 million (eight billion won), including $5 million (five billion won) from Nike. On top of that, it seems that Michelle Wie will hit the jackpot, earning $10 million (10 billion won) next year alone if invitation money and sub-sponsor contracts are included. The sum is the third highest for a female athlete and the highest for a female golfer.

Michelle Wie estimates that she will concentrate on practicing for her debut game as a professional golfer after deciding her course earlier.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Michelle Wie’s father, Wie Byung-wook (a University of Hawaii professor), said, “Nothing has been confirmed and I am doing a number of things,” and added that he is proceeding carefully in order not to make his daughter resent him. “Michelle Wie won’t skip the LPGA Tour, and though she dreams of playing on the PGA Tour, she will keep playing on the LPGA Tour,” he said.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com