Hawaiian teenager Michelle Wie is trying her luck against the men for the third time in her career at this week's PGA's tournament, the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois. The 15-year-old will try to become the first woman to make the cut at a men's tournament since countrywoman Babe Zaharias did it in 1945.
Michelle Wie has already proven that she can compete on the women's golf tour, with a second place finish at the LPGA Championship and part of the third round lead at this year's women's U.S. Open.
But for the next two weeks Wie will be competing against the men. The John Deere Classic is her third start in the men's PGA Tour event, after playing in the Sony Open the last two years in Honolulu. In her first try in 2004, Wie missed the cut by just one shot, but she failed by seven strokes this year.
Wie said she enjoyed playing at the Sony event and is happy to have the chance to play in the John Deere Classic.
"I thought it was a great event, and you know I think any chance I get to play in the men's tour I get to learn from the guys. And you know I got a chance and am very privileged to be able to play here," she said.
Next week, the one meter 83 centimeter-tall Wie travels to Lebanon, Ohio to take part in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship after becoming the first female to qualify for a U.S. Golf Association men's championship. The winner earns a huge prize, an invitation to play in next year's Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Michelle Wie says her long-term goal has always been to play against the men. But reaching that goal has not come without controversy. Wie is playing at the John Deere event courtesy of a sponsor's exemption. Her supporters say sponsors often use exemptions to bring in players who build interest in their tournaments, and Wie is happy to accept the invitation.
"If someone said 'here is $100,' would you rather work for it or would you rather just get it? I mean, I think that makes sense to me. I like the easy way in," she said.
While her detractors question whether a 15-year-old girl should be allowed to play with the men or use exemptions to avoid having to qualify for tournaments, Wie says she pays no attention to her critics.
"I know they are always going to be there and there are some people who are always against me. But I just have to realize that I am having a lot of fun and this is what I want to do, and I am not going to stop just for them," she added.
American Michelle Wie is playing against the men this week at the John Deere Classic in Illinois. Where she goes from here could become a part of golf history.