WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A row between the world’s two best known women golfers is raising the temperature for this week’s LPGA Championship, with Annika Sorenstam saying Michelle Wie lacked class in dealing with a wrist injury.
Former world number one Sorenstam took issue with a decision by teenager Wie to withdraw from a tournament last week when she was 14 over par, citing a wrist injury, only to practice two days later.
“I just feel there’s a little bit of a lack of respect and class just to leave a tournament like that and then come out and practice here,” Sorenstam told a news conference.
Wie was 16 holes into the opening round of last week’s tournament in North Carolina week when she pulled out, complaining of a wrist injury that had kept her from playing since January.
Two days later, the 17-year-old, who recently graduated from high school, was practicing at the Bulle Rock Golf Course in Maryland, the site of the LPGA Championship starting on Thursday.
Wie, who is not a member of the women’s tour and has played courtesy of sponsors’ exemptions, including in men’s events, refused to back down.
“I don’t think I need to apologize for anything,” she said. “I just have to take care of my body and mover forward and only think of positive things.”
Adding intrigue to her withdrawal was an LPGA rule that any non-member who shoots 88 or worse in a round is barred from the tour for the rest of the season. Wie was two bogeys away from that ignominious score.
“I don’t think about 88,” she said. “I mean, that’s just ridiculous.”
Wie’s troubles were compounded when her playing partners in a pro-am event on Monday at Bulle Rock lodged a complaint, prompting LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens to meet with Wie’s father, B.J., and agent, Greg Nared.
Although the nature of the dispute was unclear, Wie was adamant she had been cooperative with her playing partners.
“I think it was very insulting because I tried my best,” she said.
Wie, who earned close to $20 million in 2006 from endorsements, earnings and appearance money overseas, has struggled since tying for fifth place at last year’s LPGA Championship.
Writing by Simon Rabinovitch in London