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Just Before Turning 16, Wie Opts to Go Pro

October 01, 2005|From Associated Press

Michelle Wie plans to announce Wednesday she is turning professional, six days before her 16th birthday, ending an amateur career in which she spent most of her time playing against the pros.

Two sources involved with her decision, both speaking on condition of anonymity, told Associated Press that Wie would make the morning announcement in Honolulu at the Kahala Mandarin Hotel near Waialae Country Club, where she has twice played in the Sony Open.

The time was set at 8 a.m. so Wie could get to class at Punahou School. The idea was to allow her to stick to her routine, although she'll be the only junior already a millionaire.

Her father, B.J. Wie, had said she would not turn pro until endorsement deals were final. One of the deals is with Nike, which one source said would pay her $4 million to $5 million a year.

The other major endorsement is with Sony, which is believed to be worth close to the Nike deal. Wie will make her professional debut at the Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert, where she received a sponsor's exemption. The 18-player women's event starts Oct. 13, right after she turns 16.

She also will play the Casio World Open in Japan the week of Thanksgiving, her first tournament overseas against the men. Wie is unlikely to play any other tournaments this year.

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