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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Wie takes the professional plunge
Michelle Wie
Teen sensation Michelle Wie announced her long-awaited decision to turn professional on Wednesday - six days before her 16th birthday.

The Korean-American has set her sights on becoming the first woman to play in a men's major.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time but now it's the right time," an excited Wie said at a news conference in a Honolulu hotel.

"I'm very excited and I want to try to become the best golfer in the world."

I realise there will be high expectations but it is very exciting just thinking about being a pro
Michelle Wie
Wie made the announcement early on Wedesday morning in Hawaii so she could get to school on time.

Reports say Wie will be represented by Hollywood agency William Morris, and will make her pro debut in the Samsung World Championship on 13 October.

Thanks to endorsements worth a reported $10m, Wie will be the highest paid female golfer before she even strikes a ball.

She will go to the Samsung event at Bighorn in California with huge sponsorship deals from Nike and Sony already in the bag.

"I realise there will be high expectations but it is very exciting just thinking about being a pro. Everything will be at a higher stake, and so much more fun. I'm really looking forward to it.

"It all came down the last couple of months. I felt really ready and very comfortable playing out there. Everything has worked out very well.

Wie's sponsorship millions will make her the third highest paid female in world sport behind tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

Experts predict that the talented Wie will surpass even these established names once she starts to win professional events.

She currently has only one significant win to her name, the 2003 US Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, but enjoyed a very good year on the LPGA Tour as an amateur this season.

Wie, who cannot actually join the LPGA Tour until she is 18 and will rely on sponsor's invites until then, had three runner-up finishes in the US and was tied for third at the Women's British Open.

In fact, Wie would have earned 364,110 from her seven appearances on the LPGA Tour had she been a professional - good enough for 12th place on the money list.

Wie has also played in three men's events on the US Tour. She failed to make the cut on each occasion but only missed out by two shots at the John Deere Classic in July.

She has already made plans to compete on the Japanese men's tour.

Wie will become only the second woman to do so in Japan when she tackles the $1.2m Casio World Open in Kocki from 24-27 November.




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News conference: Michelle Wie




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