Michelle Wie has been playing LPGA events since she was in the seventh grade, drawing the biggest galleries because of her youth and power but earning little respect from players because of her preferential treatment.
In the 62 tournaments she has played over the last 7 years, Wie received 53 exemptions or invitations. The next time the 19-year-old from Hawaii tees it up, she finally can feel like she belongs.
Wie opened with three straight bogeys before settling down in blustery conditions yesterday for a 2-over 74, easily finishing among the top 20 players at the Q-school in Daytona Beach, Fla., to become a card-carrying member of the LPGA tour.
"It's a good feeling," Wie said. "I really earned it. I legitimately went through Q-school. I took my medicine. And I got it. It feels good. It's like high school graduation."
The valedictorian was former NCAA champion Stacy Lewis, who tied for third at the U.S. Women's Open in her pro debut. Lewis birdied her last two holes for a 69, giving her a three-shot victory over Amy Yang.
Wie said she will return to Stanford for the winter quarter, but plans a full LPGA schedule next year. Without being a member, she was limited to six LPGA events, plus the U.S. Women's Open and Women's British Open.
"I play whenever I want now, not when I have to play, or only six tournaments," she said. "I can pick and choose. I might play two in a row, three in a row, and have some momentum. I really like this game, and I want to play a lot. I'm going to take advantage of this card."
But she hasn't ruled out playing against the men.
"I still want to pursue that," said Wie, who has not made the cut in eight tries on the PGA Tour. "I'm the kind of person where if I start out and want to pursue it, I'm going to do it. I've always wanted to do it since I started golf."
Next up is 2 days of LPGA orientation, a final at Stanford on Wednesday, then home to Honolulu for the holidays where she plans to "be a beach bum for 7 days."
* Sweden's Henrik Stenson shot a 4-under 68 and cruised to a nine-shot win ahead of Kenny Perry at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa. He won $1.2 million.
* Five days after his wife delivered their first child stillborn, India's Jeev Milkha Singh won the Japanese tour's season-ending Nippon Series Cup in Tokyo. Kudrat Singh, recovering in a Toyko hospital, urged her husband to play the event. He won by two strokes.
* Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, won the Australian PGA by two strokes in Coolum.
* Larry Nelson shot a best-ball 62 with his son, Drew, to become the first player to win the Del Webb Father-Son Championship in Orlando, Fla., 2 straight years with different sons. *