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Golfer Michelle Wie's Early Years and Career Development

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Golfer Michelle Wie at 2004 Sony Open

Golfer Michelle Wie, in her early teens, plays at the 2004 Sony Open on the PGA Tour.

© John Brown; used with permission
(Note: What follows in an article originally published in October 2005, examining the career to that date of Michelle Wie. It contains lots of information about the early development of Wie's career. Visit our Michelle Wie Index for much more information from later and current time periods in Wie's career.)

October, 2005 - Is Michelle Wie the next big thing in golf, a Tigress on the prowl for greatness?

Oui, Wie!

Wie's performance at the 2004 PGA Tour Sony Open must have convinced even the most sober analysts that she might just be capable - someday - of competing on the PGA Tour.

Playing a course she had played many times before, and in great conditions, Wie put together rounds of 72-68 for an even-par 140 at the Sony, missing the cut by just one shot. And she did it at the age of 14.

It wasn't the first time Wie suprised the golf world, however. She made her first appearance in an LPGA major - the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship - at the age of 13. And she managed to play well enough to make the tournament's final pairing, playing alongside Annika Sorenstam and eventual winner Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.

Later in 2003, Wie became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.

Even at 13, Wie was already one of the longest hitters to appear on the LPGA Tour, knocking her drives 20 yards past most other players on tour. She regularly knocks the ball 300-plus yards, and her average distance with the driver for the 2003 Nabisco was in the 280s (or about 20 yards more than Sorenstam's average). For the 2004 PGA Tour Sony, her average off the tee (including some 3-woods) was in the 270s, just below the field average.

She turned professional in 2005, at the age of 16, and after a false start at the Samsung World Championships (where she was disqualified for a rules violation), she ran off a string of Top 5 finishes in LPGA tournaments in 2006.

Wie, already over 6-feet tall, was born in Honolulu on Oct. 11, 1989. An excellent student, her hobbies include reading, drawing and computers.

She began playing golf at the age of four. According to an Associated Press profile, Wie was winning nearly every junior event she entered by the age of 11. She told the AP that she plays golf for about four hours a day on weekdays and seven hours a day on weekends. In tournaments, her father served as her caddie through most of 2003, but the family hired a professional caddie for the PGA Sony Open.

At the age of 10, she shot a 64.

Also at the age of 10, Wie became the youngest player ever to qualify for a USGA amateur championship when she made the field for the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

She advanced to the semifinals of the same event two years later (2002), the youngest semifinalist ever in a USGA amateur championship.

At the 2002 LPGA Takefuji Classic, Wie became the youngest ever to Monday qualify for an LPGA Tour event. Her appearance in the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship included a round of 66, tying the record for low amateur round in an LPGA major.

Wie has also attempted to qualify for the PGA Sony Open, playing in Monday qualifying rounds. In 2003, she finished tied for 47th in a field comprised of 97 men, and playing from the same tees as those men.

Tom Lehman, who played with Wie in a pro-am, bestowed the nickname "Big Wiesy" (rhymes with "Big Easy") on her because her swing resembles that of Ernie Els.

See our Michelle Wie Homepage for more.

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