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My Name Is Wie, Michelle Wie

March 27, 2011
Micheele Wie looking at her tee shot

Michelle Sung Wie , (Wie Seong-mi, born October 11, 1989) is an American professional golfer. In 2006, she was named in a Time magazine article, “one of 100 people who shape our world.”

Omega Ambassador Michelle Wie

Wie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her parents were immigrants from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) who came to the United States in the 1980s. Her father, Byung-wook Wie, is a former professor of transportation management at the University of Hawaii. Her mother was South Korea’s women’s amateur golf champion in 1985 and competed in a Miss Korea pageant. Her paternal grandfather, Dr. Sang Kyu Wie, a resident of Jangheung, Jeollanam-do, was an emeritus professor at Seoul National University.

Michelle Wie

When she was born, since both of her parents had been Korean, Wie had been a dual citizen of both the Republic of Korea and the United States automatically. But, the Republic of Korea does not allow dual citizenship after the age of 21. Wie has opted for United States citizenship.

Michelle Wie in red dress holds an award

Wie graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii in June, 2007. On December 19, 2006, she announced that she would be attending Stanford University where there are family ties. Her paternal grandfather was a visiting professor and an aunt and uncle are both graduates.

A shot of Michelle Wie yawning

She enrolled in September, 2007 as a freshman, but as a professional golfer, Wie is not eligible under NCAA rules to play for Stanford’s golf team. During her first three years at Stanford, she attended only during the fall and winter quarters, running from late September through mid-March each year. She took leaves of absence during the rest of the year to play professional golf.

Michelle Wie in action

Another shot of Michelle Wie in action

Wie began playing golf at the age of four. In 2000, at the age of ten,  she shot a 64 at one of her favorite courses to qualify for a USGA amateur championship event at the USGA’s Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, becoming the youngest player ever to do so. Eight years later, Wie’s mark was broken by fellow Hawaiian Allisen Corpuz who qualified when she was five months younger than Wie had been when she set the record.

Michelle Wie and caddy Tim Vickers

Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer

In 2001, at the age of 11, she won both the Hawaii State Women’s Stroke Play Championship and the Jennie K. Wilson Women’s Invitational, the oldest and most prestigious women’s amateur tournament in Hawaii. She also advanced into match play at the Women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie

In 2002, the prodigy won the Hawaii State Open Women’s Division by thirteen shots. She also became the youngest player (at 12 years old) to qualify for an LPGA event, the Takefuji Classic held in Wie’s home state of Hawaii. While she went on to miss the cut, her record stood for five more years until it was broken in 2007 by 11-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn.

Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie

Also in 2002, Wie reached the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, a tourney she would later win.

Michelle Wie looking at her tee shot

At the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wie became the youngest player to make an LPGA cut. She carded a 66 in the 3rd round, tying the amateur record for a women’s major championship and qualifying her to play in the final group of the championship.

Micheele Wie

In June 2003, Wie won the Women’s Amateur Public Links tournament, becoming the youngest person ever, male or female, to win a USGA adult event. Later that summer, she made the cut at the US Women’s Open when she was still just 13, the youngest player ever to do so.

Michelle Wie teeing off

Michelle Wie

Amazingly, Wie was not satisfied with taking on the LPGA. She attempted to compete against men in the 2003 Sony Open on the PGA Tour. Though she missed the bid, she punctuated her year by joining the final grouping in her first LPGA major, and playing in three tournaments in which she was the only female.

Michelle Wie lining up her putt

Michelle Wie

In 2004, Wie qualified for the Sony Open, becoming the youngest player to ever play on the PGA tour. She missed the cut, but made headlines everywhere for making such an incredible appearance. Wie was also selected for the U.S. golf team, and finished an amazing fourth at the LPGA major event, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie waving to fans

On October 5, 2005, a week before her 16th birthday, Wie turned professional, accompanied by an enormous amount of hype and endorsements.  She signed sponsorship contracts with Nike and Sony reportedly worth more than 10 million dollars per year.

What is her golf club leaning against? Hahaha!

Having turned professional, Wie was not a member of any professional tour. LPGA Tour membership age requirements require a golfer to be 18, although some players such as Morgan Pressel and Aree Song have successfully petitioned for an exemption to join at age 17.

Wie chose not to request an exemption and was thus only allowed to participate in a limited number of LPGA Tour events when given a sponsor’s exemption from 2005 until 2008. She also chose not to participate in the Tour’s Qualifying Tournaments (or “Q-School”) until December 2008, when she finished 7th to gain LPGA membership for the 2009 season.

In her first two tournaments on the LPGA Tour in early 2006, Wie gained a third place finish in the Fields Open in Hawaii, finishing one stroke off the lead, and finished in a tie for third in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finishing one stroke behind, again.

Michelle Wie Celebrates Birdie

May, 2006, saw her play the Asian Tour SK Telecom Open, becoming the second woman (after Se Ri Pak) to make the cut at a men’s tournament in South Korea. Wie reportedly received US$700,000 in appearance fees at an event that offered only US$600,000 in total prize money. In all, she reportedly netted US$5 million in appearance and endorsement money for the two-week trip.

By the end of 2006, her first full year as a professional, Wie had missed the cut in 11 out of 12 tries against men, and remained winless in all 33 professional women’s tournaments she had entered, the last 9 as a professional.

A disappointed Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie reacts after making double bogey

Michelle Wie reacts after missing a putt for bogey

In December 2007, Wie was ranked at #4 in the Forbes Top 20 Earners Under 25 with an annual earnings of 19 million dollars even though she struggled in golf tournaments that year.

Michelle Wie's winning reaction

On November 15, 2009, Wie won her first professional individual tournament, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico, a limited field event on the LPGA Tour, posting a score of thirteen under par 275 for a two-stroke margin over fellow American Paula Creamer, and besting Jiyai Shin, Christie Kerr and Morgan Pressel by two strokes. It was Wie’s 81st professional tournament and her 66th LPGA Tour event. She then finished second in the Ladies European Tour season-ending Dubai Ladies Masters tournament on December 9–12, 2009, shooting a 15-under-par 273, which put her three shots behind winner In-Kyung Kim.

Michelle Wie holding her trophy after winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational LPGA golf tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico

On August 29, 2010, she posted a three-shot win over a full field at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, held at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for her second career professional victory. In her next LPGA event, she finished second in the 54-hole P&G NW Arkansas Championship two weeks later, shooting 201 (-12) but losing to Yani Tseng by one stroke after giving up an overnight three-stroke lead.

Michelle Wie celebrates a birdie

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