King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Michelle Wie to turn pro? But what about college golf? Plus: Monarchs rule.

Published September 21, 2005 7:00PM (EDT)

Terrible news: Michelle Wie is reportedly turning pro before her 16th birthday next month. Goodness gracious, what's next, teenage tennis players? Hockey? Oh, dear, get me my pills. Golf World magazine, citing sources close to endorsement negotiations, reports that the decision has been made, and others who report about golf are reporting that people in the game believe the magazine story.

Wie's father, University of Hawaii professor B.J. Wie, told the Associated Press he hasn't made up his mind yet about whether his daughter will turn pro in time for the Samsung World Championship Oct. 13 in Palm Desert, Calif. Her birthday is Oct. 11.

The sources say the announcement will come by the end of September rather than on the eve of the tournament, to "minimize distractions." Right, right. Wie playing her first tournament as a pro two weeks after announcing her decision won't be nearly the media circus it would have been had she made her announcement the same week as the event.

Wie has severed all ties with amateur golf and has played only professional tournaments this year, though she hasn't taken prize money. If she had, she'd be 12th on the LPGA money list after playing seven events. Nobody above her on the list has played fewer than 16 of the 26 events this year, and the one who played 16 is only Annika Sorenstam.

The leading money-winner among women who have played fewer than 10 events is Paula Marti, who is 82nd, about $600,000 behind where Wie would be had she taken the money.

And thank goodness for all concerned she hasn't.

A 15-year-old pro. What a disaster. These teenage athletes need to stay in school instead of bringing their lack of fundamentals and their thuggish behavior to the pro game, which suffers as a result.

Not to mention the sorry state of college golf. And education! Oh, yeah, education. Do you know what the college graduation rate is for 6-foot-1 15-year-old girls from Hawaii who can hit golf balls 300 yards? It's atrocious. B.J. Wie says Michelle plans to graduate high school and go to Stanford, but she won't be able to play on the golf team.

You'd think a college professor, of all people, would for heaven's sake think of the children! Golly, won't anyone think of the children?

I think Wie should stay in school, get her education, play college golf and forget about the $10 million or so she could be making every year even if she never finishes in the money, which is a pretty funny if. I'm sure three years from now many colleges will be lining up to give her room, board and tuition in exchange for her golf skills.

Why rush things? Pro golf will always be there, and if not, well, she can always fall back on that degree and get a good job.

Before turning pro, Michelle Wie should take a lesson from the cautionary tale of LeBron James.

I mean, what does Michelle Wie have right now? Sure, she's smart, poised, good-looking, charismatic and already better than most of the pros she's already competing against. But I mean other than that.

Nothing, same as James, and look what's happened to him. These kids have got to learn about priorities. They're ruining professional sports.

Note to editors (please take out this paragraph before publishing): Do any of you guys know if 6 weeks is too young for my daughter to start learning how to play golf?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Monarchs win [PERMALINK]

The Sacramento Monarchs beat the Connecticut Sun 62-59 Tuesday night to win the WNBA Finals 3-1 and give Sacramento its first basketball championship. Like their brothers the Kings, the Monarchs had been perennial almosts, losing in the Western Conference finals three of the last four years.

The Arco Arena crowd of 15,002 looked and sounded like a Kings crowd, except the pitch of the screaming was higher, more female. The finish felt like an NCAA Tournament game, with the Sun going on an 11-2 run to close within one with about two minutes left.

The Monarchs, a deep, defensive team, held off the late charge and won when they forced Nykesha Sales to launch a desperation 3-pointer that would have tied the game in the final second. It missed everything.

A few quick impressions about the WNBA, which I've never watched as much as I watch college ball, which I also don't watch much. I did see all or part of all four games in the Finals.

  • I wish the WNBA played during basketball season. It plays in the off-season because NBA arenas are available. That also allows some top players who also play in Europe for more money and prestige to play in the U.S. I get the economics, but ask the USFL about trying to become a major league while playing in the off-season, and the USFL didn't have to deal with gender politics.

  • I love the short regular season. Thirty-four games, then on to the playoffs. Fabulous. NBA, please take note. But I wish the playoffs were longer. They're drawing 15,000 to WNBA Finals games. Why not play seven?
  • The skill level in women's basketball is getting better every year and will continue to do so for quite a while, I'll bet. And while I mentioned that the women pay more attention to the fundamentals than the men tend to, I have to ask: Does anyone in the WNBA box out?
  • The Monarchs are my team, but I think if point guard Lindsay Whalen hadn't gotten injured in the semifinals, the Sun would have won the title.

    Previous column: NFL telethon

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • Bookmark to get the new Kaufman column every day.
  • Discuss this column and the sports news of the day in Table Talk.
  • Send an e-mail to King Kaufman.
  • To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to

  • By Salon Staff

    MORE FROM Salon Staff

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------