Wie defends right to play vs. men, eyes Ryder spot

Updated: September 5, 2006, 3:52 PM ET
Reuters

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland -- Michelle Wie defended her right to compete on the men's tour and said she wanted to play in the Ryder Cup some day as she prepared for this week's European Masters.

"I am not just doing it for the support I get, I am doing it for myself and my own self happiness. I love playing men's events and the challenge. I feel an adrenaline rush when I play these events and it is a lot of fun."
-- Michelle Wie

Wie, making her first appearance on the men's European Tour, will play alongside England's Nick Dougherty and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the opening two rounds on the Crans-sur-Sierre course.

In nine previous appearances on the men's tour, Wie had missed the cut in eight events before finally making her breakthrough at the SK Telecom Open in Korea in May.

"There are going to be some people that aren't happy with me playing in men's tournaments," Wie said as she looked ahead to the start of the tournament on Thursday.

"I am not expecting 100 percent support every week but that is the way the world works. There are going to be people that support me and others that don't but I feel people here have been very supportive and welcoming.

"I am not just doing it for the support I get, I am doing it for myself and my own self happiness. I love playing men's events and the challenge. I feel an adrenaline rush when I play these events and it is a lot of fun."

Wie also said she would like to qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in the future.

"Hopefully, I will be able to play the Ryder Cup one day, that would be awesome and I think it is totally possible," she said.

"Anything is possible in the future ... we are starting to get stronger and work out more and are mentally tough and we can do it."

Wie tested her game on Tuesday when she joined European Ryder Cup player Sergio Garcia in a practice round.

"Playing with Sergio this morning was awesome," she said. "It is the first time playing with him and he is such a great player I learned a lot playing with him today."

But Garcia believes the high school student from Hawaii will struggle to make the halfway cut this week.

"Michelle is definitely an extraordinary player and hits the ball quite a long way for a woman," said Garcia.

"Hopefully she will do well this week but if she had a higher ball flight it would be a bit easier for her.

"It is not an easy golf course and her short game will have to be sharp. She struggled today to hit some of the greens in two."

Some of the game's leading players, including Australia's Adam Scott and New Zealand's Michael Campbell, believe Wie should first win on the women's tour before seeking to compete alongside the men.

Wie has accepted an invitation to the PGA Tour's 84 Lumber Classic next week and wants to play more against the men.

Wie also responded to Jean Van de Velde's call in October to allow men to compete in the Women's British Open.

"My perspective on this is that the British Open is not called the Men's British Open, it is the British Open," she said.

"The PGA, it's called the Professional Golfers' Association. There is no men's Professional Golfers' Association whereas the LPGA is called the Ladies Professional Golfers' Association and the British Open is called the Women's British Open so I think it is very clear."