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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are MICHELLE WIE (main picture), with SEANNA WALSH, CAMERON DIAZ, DANIEL BARENBOIM and MOHAMMED NASEEM.


Michelle Wie uncoils a flowing golf swing in the manner of a Bendy toy, exerting such leverage that she can outdrive most men. Technically perfect, according to golf-guru, David Leadbetter. And she's only 15.

No wonder that the young amateur from Hawaii draws a crowd wherever she plays; no surprise she has been called the Tiger Woods of women's golf.

Wie's appearance at this week's Weetabix Women's British Open is only her second in the UK. In her first, she helped America's amateurs win the Curtis Cup.

She's likely to turn professional next year, and has made no secret of the fact that she is not content to compete solely against women, but has her sights on the men's competitions too.

Michelle Wie driving off the tee
Michelle Wie: Elasticity on legs
Her ambition is to play in the Masters, and Augusta's chairman, Hootie Johnson, has indicated that she will be allowed to enter if she qualifies.

The same goes for the Open in Britain.

She has played against male opponents before. In August 2003, at the age of 13, she missed the cut by five strokes at a tournament in America.

Then in January last year, she took part in her first PGA tour event at the Sony Open, missing the cut by a single stroke. She consistently drove 300 yards. "I've always pushed myself to the limit", she says. "Ever since I was young, I wanted to compete against the guys."

Helping her push herself have been Michelle Wie's parents. They emigrated to Hawaii from South Korea in 1988 and are now US citizens.

Her mother, Bo, an estate agent, was South Korea's women's amateur golf champion in 1985 and taught the game to her husband, BJ, after they were married.

Precocious talent

BJ, who is a professor at the University of Hawaii, now plays off a two handicap.

Yet, by the age of nine, the precocious Michelle was outscoring them both. A year later, she had carded a 64, and became the youngest to qualify for a USGA amateur event.

In 2002, she was the youngest to be included in a Ladies Pro Golf Association (LPGA) tournament.

She has yet to win an LPGA event but it won't be long before she does. She has been runner-up three times in six starts this year.

Michelle's parents, Bo and BJ Wie
Michelle's parents, Bo and BJ Wie
Her ambitions have not pleased some fellow golfers.

Whereas there are those who feel she is both right and well-placed to pit her talents against adults of both sexes, there are others, like golf-legend Arnold Palmer, who feel she should be learning the art of winning by competing with her own age group on the junior circuit.

World number one, Annika Sorenstram, for example, continued to play in world junior events, and for her national Swedish teams, when she was a teenager.

There are others, like former champion Laura Davies, who believe Michelle Wie should be concentrating on trying to be the best woman golfer before worrying about competing in men's events.

On the other hand, women's golf has failed to emerge from the shadow of the men's tour. Prize money has barely moved in five years. Prodigies like Michelle Wie are just what the game needs.

But while golf may benefit, there is concern over the toll that fame may take on someone so young. Already, Michelle Wie's parents have been resisting the pressure of TV talk shows, radio and the press.

Once she turns professional, the pressure from her sponsors will be immense. Sport is littered with teenage superstars who have succumbed to physical and emotional burnout. Tennis starlets Tracy Austin, Andrea Jaeger, Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis come to mind.

"Being famous is pretty cool," says Michelle Wie. It is likely to get hotter very soon.


The IRA chose one of their former H-block protesters, Seanna Walsh, to read out their landmark statement on Thursday. Walsh, who had been imprisoned for explosives offences, announced a halt to the organisation's 35-year "armed struggle" and ordered its members to decommission their arms. The Army Council instructed all its units to stand down, officially ending an armed campaign which began in 1969. Walsh did not announce, though, that the IRA was to disband.


Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz has won a blackmail case against a photographer who had taken pictures of her posing in leather boots and fishnet stockings when she was an aspiring model of 19. John Rutter, 42, was convicted of grand theft, forgery and perjury after he had threatened to publish the pictures if the actress didn't buy them back for 2 million. He forged Diaz's signature on a 1992 release form and faces a possible six-year jail term.


The celebrated conductor and peace activist, Daniel Barenboim, has been chosen to deliver the prestigious Reith Lectures on BBC radio next year. He will discuss the extent to which the visual has become privileged over the aural in our culture and call for a shift in the priority between the two. Barenboim will be the first performer to deliver the lectures and, in a break with tradition, will illustrate his talks with music played by himself.


The chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, Mohammed Naseem, has been criticised for remarks made over the recent London bombings. He said that there was nothing to prove that Muslims carried out the atrocities. Furthermore, he denied there was convincing evidence that the 11 September attacks on New York had been carried out by Al-Qaeda. A Birmingham MP, Khalid Mahmood, has called for his resignation.

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Bob Chaundy


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