Wie Believe!

Jan 20, 2004 8:22 AM

Where there’s a will, there’s a Wie.

Translation: No way Michelle will ever again see a +1500 price not to make a PGA cut.

"Personally, taking her age (14) into consideration, it was darn near amazing," Palms race and sports manager Fred Crespi said after bravely putting up the proposition on whether Wie would hang around for the weekend at the Sony Open in her native Hawaii.

When Wie first decided to test big boys in the PGA Tour’s second event, the attempt received far less publicity than Annika Sorenstam’s venture into men’s pro golf last May at the Colonial. What Wie accomplished by shooting even par 140 superseded the deserved fanfare the world’s No. 1 women’s player earned after missing the cut in Texas.

Wie’s opening round 72 was brilliant, but that closing 2-under 68 bordered on incredible. We’re talking about a girl (yes, she’s tall and has a guy’s build) barely in high school scoring better than last week’s Mercedes winner Stuart Appleby and competing on the same level with Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III.

Even a Tiger would have been moved.

"From a gaming perspective, we didn’t want to get into problems placing a bet on a minor," Crespi said. "Wie is not your typical 14-year-old golfer. We did get approval to put up the prop, but it did not get the same play as Annika."

Next time, though, it will.

While Sorenstam did not make the cut, her opening round 73 on one of the world’s toughest courses gained notoriety for both herself and the LPGA, not to mention a considerable amount of betting action in Las Vegas. Not nearly what one of the four PGA majors would bring, but a lot more than the average event.

"Action was brisk when Annika tried it," Crespi said. "Of course, she is the greatest women’s player ever trying to take on the guys. That, along with the timing (away from the NFL or March Madness) made it a betting event."

Palms listed Sorenstam at —500 to miss the cut in Fort Worth (with a +350 payback if she stuck around. The Hall of Famer was 300-1 to win the Colonial and —115 to either shoot "over" or "under" 76½ strokes in the opening round. Extremely low compared to the —2000 that Palms placed on Wie missing the cut, which came at 1-under par.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants sent Wie off at 1000-1 to win Sony, -2200 to miss the cut and +1500 to qualify for the final two rounds. Those betting against the "Big Wiesy" had to take a collective sigh of relief. It was that close.

"Michelle doesn’t seem phased by what she is accomplishing," Crespi said. "The lack of prior publicity I think helped her. She does have an element of interest."

It’s much more than an element now.

Her first round was highlighted by a driving average of 278 yards, ranking a solid 57th in the field. The second round was all about putting, just 23 strokes compared to 31 the previous day. Wie was 2-under on the back nine, including three birdies and a putt that hung on the lip that would have earned her, and those that took the +1500 chance, a lot of coin.

There is no denying now that Wie is very close to making future PGA cuts and will take the LPGA by storm when she competes against Annika and that Tour’s best players. We can only hope Wie tries the PGA soon and draws another +1500 cut prop.

Wishful thinking.