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GOLF NOTES

Team Wie Changes Again

October 19, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Anyone looking for a deeper explanation of why Ross Berlin quit as Michelle Wie's agent at the William Morris Agency may be disappointed, because it's simply business as usual. Berlin, who left the PGA Tour to assume the role as the primary on-site point man for Wie, returned for an unspecified role with his old employer, a reunion announced in a six-paragraph statement Wednesday from the Tour's Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters.

Meanwhile, Wie's team hired Greg Nared to replace Berlin. Nared has been with Nike for 15 years, most often with Tiger Woods, and has been special projects manager for the Nike U.S. sports marketing division. It was Nared who courted Wie for Nike, which signed her to a five-year deal when she turned pro last October at 16.

In her first year as a pro, Wie's income from endorsements -- William Morris also attracted Sony and Omega as sponsors -- as well as earnings and appearance fees, is expected to reach as much as $20 million.

It was significant that when Wie's public-relations company announced Nared's addition in an e-mail statement, he was identified not as her agent, but as a member of her team at William Morris.

Insiders at William Morris say Berlin's role was not to sign on sponsors, but as the day-to-day golf expert, smoothing the way for Wie. The key players in Wie's sponsor machinery at the golf division of William Morris are David Wirtschafter, Jill Smoller and Philip Button.

Smoller, a former tennis pro who represents Serena Williams and Kevin Garnett, among others, is highly regarded by the Wie family and perhaps most closely associated with the deal making. It was Smoller who hired Berlin a year ago.

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Figuring out Woods' schedule isn't easy, at least the part that pertains to the PGA Tour. He is skipping the Disney this week, and until he officially announces he's in, the Tour Championship is questionable. However, it wouldn't be a shock if he chooses not to play.

Woods doesn't have to reveal his plans for the Tour Championship until Oct. 27, the Friday before the tournament begins at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. It's the final official money tournament of 2006. Woods has committed to play four off-season events -- in China, Japan, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii and his Target World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in mid-December.

If Woods skips East Lake, his six-tournament PGA Tour winning streak would be intact when he plays the Mercedes Championships at Kapalula in January.

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It looks as if the Skins Game is moving next year to the Indian Wells Golf Resort, which is undergoing a major renovation. The 23-year-old Skins Game will be played over Thanksgiving weekend at Trilogy Golf Club for the fourth time.

Also, the LPGA's World Championship, which has been staged at Bighorn for the last three years, may also be on the move. Samsung's contract is up as sponsor and so is the deal at Bighorn. It's going to be up to Samsung, Bighorn and IMG, which runs the event, to figure it out. Somewhere in the Monterey area already has been floated as a possible venue, if the tournament doesn't stay put.

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He said he would serve only once as Ryder Cup captain, but Ian Woosnam sounds as if he's having second thoughts. Maybe it's because Europe's record-tying wipeout of the U.S. last month has sunk in, but Woosnam said he might reconsider for 2010 when the Ryder Cup is played in his home nation, Wales.

Nick Faldo will be the captain in 2008 at Valhalla near Louisville, Ky., and Paul Azinger is expected to be named the U.S. captain.

Meanwhile, Colin Montgomerie is making noises as if he wants to be the captain in 2010. He has played the Celtic Manor Wales Open four times, the Ryder Cup will be played at Celtic Manor and he's even designing a golf course at the resort.

Its name: The Montgomerie.

Catchy. The Monty just doesn't cut it, apparently.

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Arnold Palmer is the honorary chairman of the eighth Jim Murray Invitational to be played Nov. 13 at SilverRock Resort at La Quinta. The event benefits the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, which funds scholarships for journalism students. Details: (760) 771-8972.

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Kermit Alexander, Pam Teeguarden, Bobby Anderson, Tyler Mane and Rick Hill are some of the celebrities scheduled to play in the Young Children Priority One celebrity tournament Oct. 30 at Victoria Country Club in Riverside. The Riverside-Arlington Kiwanis Club is sponsoring the event, which benefits the Teen Challenge and Arc Riverside's NineZero Project. Details: (760) 632-7770.

thomas.bonk@latimes.com

* GOLF SCHEDULE, D7

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