Unable to earn her card through sponsor exemptions, Michelle Wie has entered the LPGA Tour qualifying school and will play the first stage next week on the California course where she first rose to fame at age 13.
Her father, B.J. Wie, had said at the U.S. Women’s Open that Wie had “no other options” but Q-school if she didn’t make enough money to finish the equivalent of 80th of the LPGA Tour money list.
“Nothing has changed since then,” he said Tuesday morning from Palm Desert, Calif. “She will go to Q-school.”
The first stage will be at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., site of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where Wie played in the final group of the LPGA’s first major when she was in the eighth grade.
Wie turned pro in 2005 and a year later had at least a share of the lead on the back nine of three majors. Her career went into a tailspin short after that, when she tried to play through wrist injuries, withdrew from the Ginn Tribute when she was on the verge of shooting 88 and facing suspension, and continued to play the occasional event on men’s tours.
She has not won any tournament since the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in 2003 at age 13.
But she showed signs of getting her game back in order this year. Wie was one shot off the lead going into the final round of the State Farm Classic in July when she was disqualified for leaving the scoring trailer before signing her card. That might have kept her from earning enough money to get an LPGA Card, and she tied for 12th in the CN Canadian Women’s Open at her final event.
Her father said Wie, who turns 19 on Oct. 11, will return to Stanford after the California qualifier. Wie attended the first quarter at Stanford last fall, trying to blend college life with professional golf.
Going through LPGA qualifying could soothe some criticism that she has taken too many free passes. The USGA gave her an exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 14 while teammates on her Curtis Cup team had to qualify.
She made it through qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open this year, but took a 9 on her ninth hole of the opening round and shot 81, and failed to make the cut.