Sony says no to Wie

she'll stick with LPGA

December 21, 2007

Michelle Wie might start her 2008 season in Hawaii, but not at the Sony Open.

Wie, who has played the PGA event every year since 2004, did not receive one of the four unrestricted sponsor exemptions, tournament director Ray Stosik said yesterday.

Swing coach David Leadbetter said the 18-year-old from Honolulu likely would ask for exemptions at one or both of the LPGA events in Hawaii that begin the women's golf season in February. He also said competition against the men would probably be on hold until Wie gets her health and her game back together.

"She's not ready to play in that yet," Leadbetter said of the Sony Open, where Wie rose to fame by shooting 68 at age 14 and missing the cut by one shot. "Her health is getting better, her game is getting better, the confidence is growing. ... The whole goal is to get back on track after the debacle last year."

The debacle included Wie trying to play despite both wrists being injured. She made only three cuts in nine starts, withdrew twice and broke par only two times. She also endured harsh criticism from Annika Sorenstam, who was angered that Wie pulled out of the Swede's tournament, only to be seen hitting balls on the range at the next tournament.

"She knows she's got to earn people's respect back," said Leadbetter, who has been working with Wie this week at ChampionsGate Resort outside Orlando, Fla. "She's grown up in some ways. She seems a little more independent. She's a lot happier."

Wie finished her first semester at Stanford, and Leadbetter said the family is trying to decide on a balance between golf and school for the spring semester.

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