Pressel says Wie
can help peers by
sticking to LPGA

Morgan Pressel, the top-ranked junior amateur in women's golf, said 15-year-old rival Michelle Wie might help her fellow competitors by concentrating more on the LPGA Tour.

"She's obviously going to make a ton of money when she does turn professional, but she could help a lot of other people make a lot of money as well," the 17-year-old Pressel said in an interview at the U.S. Women's Amateur championship, which Wie skipped after a summer of men's and women's pro tour stops.

Wie, who lost to Pressel in their last head-to-head match at the 2002 U.S. Girls Junior championship, has said that when she turns pro her schedule likely will mix men's and women's events. If Wie concentrated on the LPGA Tour, the interest in her might generate increased television ratings and possibly a rise in prize money, Pressel said in Roswell, Ga., yesterday.

Wie's father, B.J., didn't immediately return a call or an e-mail seeking comment.

Pressel's theory is similar to what happened on the men's tour after Tiger Woods joined in 1996 and went on to become the world's top-ranked golfer.

While Wie spent this year playing mostly in professional women's events, her attempt to qualify for the Masters by playing in the men's U.S. Public Links Championship and appearances at a pair of PGA Tour events have drawn the most attention.

Pressel, who became the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open in 2001 at age 12, has stuck to amateur play, winning nine times in the past year, including each of the American Junior Golf Association's five major events. She finished seven shots ahead of Wie at the 2005 U.S. Women's Open.

LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw recently vetoed Pressel's petition to join the women's tour before her 18th birthday. Her grandfather Herb Krickstein said Votaw told Pressel her record wasn't good enough and suggested that she get her high school diploma first.

Golf companies, including Nike, the world's biggest maker of athletic shoes, are lining up to sign sponsorships with Wie, a 6-foot Punahou junior whose game features 300-yard drives. According to Golfweek magazine, Wie will turn professional in October and sign a $12 million endorsement contract with Nike, which counts Woods as its top golf endorser.

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