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Signs pointing to Michelle Wie turning pro

While all signs point toward Michelle Wie turning pro in three weeks at the Samsung World Championship, her father remains guarded.

``Everyone seems to know what I'm doing,'' B.J. Wie said last week from his office at the University of Hawaii. ``Nothing is firmed up. I have not made any decisions. We're still working on a number of things.''

Wie turns 16 on Oct. 11, two days before the start of the tournament. It will be her final LPGA Tour event of the year, and she already has proven she can compete. Had she taken prize money, Wie would have earned $640,870, enough to be 12th on the LPGA money list in just seven tournaments.

Even so, she is not expected to petition new commissioner Carolyn Bivens to waive the tour's age requirement of 18. The junior at Punahou School in Honolulu likely will take six sponsor's exemptions on the LPGA Tour, plus whatever she can get on the PGA Tour, and in Europe (men and women) and Asia (men and women).

But while Wie still holds to her dream of playing on the PGA Tour one day, her father said her first priority is to become an LPGA Tour member.

``Michelle will not bypass the LPGA,'' Wie said. ``She will never use the LPGA as a training ground. She will play continuously on the LPGA. At some time, she will try to get her PGA card through the seven maximum exemptions, or if that doesn't work out, go through qualifying. But we don't know when that time will be.''

Wie spent three days with swing coach David Leadbetter in Orlando, Fla., before returning to Honolulu to start the 11th grade, and her father said she is working to get more length off the tee.

Her other driving -- behind the wheel of a car -- also is coming alone.

``I don't talk as much when she drives, so that's a good sign,'' her father said.

In the meantime, he continues to pore through offers from management agencies, potential endorsements and trying to figure out her best path. He appears to be moving cautiously.

``There's so many things to take care of,'' Wie said. ``I'm just an ordinary professor. I'm trying to be conservative. If I made a mistake, and she finds out I made a mistake, she'll blame me forever.''

Wie laughed, recalling an incident at the Evian Masters when he was her caddie.

``I gave her the wrong yardage,'' Wie said. ``It was 116 yards, and I gave her 146. The ball flew over the green and she made triple bogey. She's still blaming me for that.''

 

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