Wie receives Sony exemption, will tee it up vs. men

11/14/2006 - Golf

HONOLULU -- Entering her second year as a professional,
teenage golfer Michelle Wie will take another swing against the men
at the Sony Open after receiving an exemption Tuesday.

For Wie, 17, this will be her fourth straight Sony Open, where
she will compete on her home island of Oahu. She has failed to make
the cut in six tries so far on the PGA Tour.

Wie said she doesn't mind that Sony, one of her main sponsors,
is letting her play in the event without having to qualify.

"I like exemptions. It's like somebody says, 'Here, you can
have $100,' or I can work for $100," Wie said to laughter at a
news conference in Gov. Linda Lingle's Capitol office. "I'm very
thankful for Sony for believing in me."

Wie is still looking for her elusive first professional
accomplishment, either by winning a PGA Tour event like the Sony
Open or scoring an LPGA victory. The Sony Open will be held at
Waialae Country Club from Jan. 8 to Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, Wie said she has fallen victim to "senioritis"
during her last year of high school, and she continues to work on
all aspects of her game.

"I can't really pinpoint one thing. Obviously if I hit every
fairway, every green and make every putt, then I'll make the cut,"
Wie said.

Lingle praised Wie for her charitable donation of 30
top-of-the-line computers for Kamaile Elementary School, which has
a high concentration of homeless students along Oahu's leeward

"While the financial impact of the gift will be great, I think
a huge impact is what this says to young people," Lingle said.
"She's a great example."

Wie said she wanted to help the students after reading articles
about the state's problem of homeless people living on the beach. A
recent study found that about one-third of people who used Hawaii's
homeless shelters were children.

"I just hope that people will realize that even though this is
paradise, people need help," she said. "It's after school that
they don't have anywhere to go, they don't have anywhere to do
their homework."

Wie said she hasn't decided what other events she will play in
next year, including Hawaii LPGA tournaments like the Fields Open
and the SBS Open, where she finished second last year.

Sony is the title sponsor of the Sony Open through 2010.