SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Michelle Wie's withdrawal from this week's Safeway International because of a wrist injury disrupts her competition schedule built around a leave of absence from Stanford University's spring quarter. It likely also means she won't return to competition until the second week of May, according to those close to the situation.
According to Wie's managers at the William Morris Agency, Wie aggravated the left wrist she injured while running last year while practicing at Stanford earlier this month. Apparently, she was practicing shots out of the rough, where she spent much of 2007, and on one shot there was a ball embedded under the ball she was hitting, causing the injury.
Wie left Stanford last week to try to play as many events as possible before the fall quarter begins in late September. She is not eligible for next week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, has no gate power in Mexico for the Corona Championship the following week and so annoyed the Bobby Ginn people when she unleashed "88-Gate" on them at last year's Ginn Tribute that she won't be invited to the Ginn Open in three weeks.
Sources familiar with the situation say Wie has been invited to the Michelob ULTRA Open May 8-11 and will play there. There are two events between the Ginn and Michelob, but the sources say the Wie camp is willing to be more conservative this year and not try to rush her back from the injury as they did in 2007.
Wie's absence at Superstition Mountain will have no impact on this year's attendance at the Safeway International. Record crowds jammed the course last year without Wie and organizers expect more of the same in what players are hoping will not be the last year for the tournament. Safeway has announced it will not be back as sponsor next year, opting to focus its golf spending on the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., in August.
Losing the Safeway International would be a serious blow for the LPGA. The bar has been set very high here both in terms of the quality of the course and the way the players are treated. All of the top 75 from the 2007 money list are in the field this week, a clear demonstration of the popularity of the event. If anyone is even remotely interested in sponsoring an LPGA event, this is the one to jump on: Great venue, golf-crazy community and a spot on the schedule the week before the first major of the year. What's not to like?
Ron Sirak is the executive editor of Golf World magazine and author of the best-selling book "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose: How GOLF54 Can Make you a Better Player" and the recently released "The Game Before the Game: The Perfect 30-Minute Practice."