According to UPI.com’s recently reported list of “10 of the Highest Paid Female Athletes,” pro golfer Michelle Wie earned a sum of $12 million, with Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na trailing close behind, raking in an impressive $9.7 million. Wie and Kim are ranked among other talented female sports stars like Maria Sharapova and Venus and Serena Williams.
Wie—who is playing in her second round of the LPGA State Farm Classic tournament today (fingers crossed!)—has reportedly been shopping around for a new contract, and it’s rumored that she might be signing with IMG Worldwide after her departure from William Morris Agency. However, it’s still too early for any definitive news.
“Queen” Kim Yu-Na has also been keeping busy with her new figure skating variety show, Kiss & Cry, which aired in Korea last month. The show features a line-up of Korean actors and singers who battle it out for the chance to skate in Kim Yu-Na’s Ice Show in August.
[Photo of Michelle Wie: Chris Trotman/Getty; Kim Yu-Na: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI]
What an interesting week with our face to face interview with Asian sensation RAIN and a week of Korean women triumphing and being dismissed. The most exciting hour was Friday evening with RAIN and James McTeigue, the director of Ninja Assassin. We were one of the very first people to speak with RAIN on his press tour to promote the upcoming release of Ninja Assassin. He was very nice and genuinely happy to see us when we first entered the room. We didn’t know what to expect because you read so much about how huge he is in Asia and you wonder what he’s like. He was actually very social, talkative and very comfortable in his own skin. He clearly does not lack confidence, even with the difficult task of having to speak English for a long line of interviews. What was most interesting was that he followed us out to the waiting room and essentially chilled with us while we packed up our gear. It seemed like he wanted to chat more and it wouldn’t be a surprise because he was probably exhausted from speaking English during the interviews. He just wanted to hang with his Korean-American homeys.
What a week of Korean women!
So which Koreans were on TV this week? There were four Korean women to one Korean man. Anthony Kim was seen on NBC this weekend, winning the Kiwi Challenge down in New Zealand. It was actually a tape delay from the previous week. But this was the week of Korean women with two Korean athletes winning their respective competitions. Kim Yu Na won the Skate America championship in Lake Placid, which may presage a gold medal at the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver. Michelle Wie won her very first LPGA tournament down in Mexico against stiff competition at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico. However, for Korean beauties, it wasn’t such a great week with two ladies competing in separate model competitions losing out before the end. Catharina Lee was a finalist for the Victoria Secret runway model competition before going home when they whittled it down to the final five. And Jennifer An almost made it to the very end on America’s Next Top Model but was sent home as well. It’s pretty cool that we’ve Korean women are beautiful, athletic and ambitious. You go girl!
It’s been a long time coming for Michelle Wie but she finally did it. She won for the first time in a professional tournament. Michelle Wie competed at the LPGA’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico and she walked away with the trophy with a two stroke victory. She finished off in style with a birdie on her final hole. The question is will this win propel her to new heights? She had been criticized by many for competing in men’s tournaments and for not doing enough on the women’s tour. Well, she’s got her first win and perhaps this will lift a weight off of Michelle’s shoulders.
Having spent her teens bouncing between tours and continents, Wie, 20, had finally found some stability this season as a full-fledged LPGA rookie. Even before her victory at the penultimate tournament of the year it had been a successful campaign defined by solid results, new friendships and a starring role at the Solheim Cup, during which Wie was overcome by a fist-pumping passion that was utterly foreign for a player who has always worn an icy gameface. The only thing missing was an individual victory, a familiar story for a player, who until Sunday had not won a tournament of any kind since the 2003 U.S. Publinks Amatuer, when she was a 13 year-old with a impossibly perfect swing and endless future. Back then no one could have imaged another victory would be such a long time coming. But Wie used the many blown chances and missed opportunities as a journey of self-discovery, and along the way the giggly, goofy tween phenom grew into a self-possessed young woman.
Michelle Wie was one of the select representatives to speak in front of the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen to get golf approved for the 2016 Olympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions.
Golf will stage a 72-hole stroke-play tournament for men and women, with 60 players in each field. Rugby will organize a four-day seven-a-side tournament — instead of the more traditional 15-a-side game — for 12 men’s and women’s teams.
This was Michelle Wie’s presentation to the IOC:
Thank you Matteo, and on behalf of my fellow athletes, thank you again for the opportunity to be here today.
I have been playing golf since I was four years old. Growing up, I was inspired by the great athletes of our sport. Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have been my heroes. For so many boys and girls around the world, their heroes have been Olympic athletes. Until today, I never thought there was any chance that I could share in that dream. With your support, I can dream about being an Olympian, I can dream about the chance to enter the Olympic stadium during Opening Ceremonies. And I can dream of doing something that not even Tiger or Ernie have ever done – make the final putt to win an Olympic Gold Medal.
If this dream comes true, I have no doubt that somewhere in the world, there will be a four-year-old girl who will see me on the podium, and perhaps start her own Olympic dream.
And now, I would like to introduce my heroes, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods.
Michelle Wie is online and getting the word out. The most famous female golfer on the planet is connecting with the world through Twitter and her blog. And people are noticing because she’s talking about things other than golf. So she likes to sew? She’s designing her own clothes?
“My cousin showed me how to use a sewing machine last week and its sooo awesome! so with my new knowledge, we ran to the fabric store and got some fabric. i got some leather looking material, black jersery fabric, and zippperrs. so i made a dress… i feel like with this one, you can either wear it without anything inside and be uber sexy with the exposed skin, or you can layer it up..”
She likes basketball, movies and random trivia. For more on Michelle’s thoughts, visit her blog and Twitter account.
The bi-annual golf competition between the American women and the European women concluded on Sunday at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois with the American women winning over the Europeans in a very tight match with a 16-12 decision. Michelle Wie and Christina Kim were the two Korean-Americans who led the charge to the American victory. In fact, Michelle Wie posted a 3-0-1 record during the week, which was best of any player who participated in the Solheim Cup. She was a captain’s pick which meant she had not originally qualified for the team but was a special selection for the team. It turned out to be a golden pick because her 3 points contributed signficantly to the win.
Michelle Wie, whose 3-0-1 record was the best of any American this week, grabbed a U.S. flag and held it aloft to cries of “Wheee!” from the crowd. As the last three matches finished, there were shrieks of joy when the next American joined the party, and new rounds of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
It’s pretty awesome that these two Korean-Americans really represent what it means to be Korean-American. At the closing ceremony, Christina Kim with “USA” painted on her cheecks, embraced Michelle Wie at the end of the singing of the U.S. national anthem. Pretty awesome if you ask us!
This week is the Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois. It’s the biennial trans-Atlantic team matchplay competition among the professional lady golfers and it is considered the premier event in women’s world golf. Think of it as the Ryder Cup for Women. This week, we’ll see a formidable U.S. team which includes two Korean-Americans: Michelle Wie and Christina Kim. Go get’em ladies!
The Solheim Cup features 12 of the top European-born players from the Ladies European Tour (LET) and 12 top American-born players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). It was founded in 1990 by Karsten Manufacturing Corporation (KMC), makers of PING golf equipment.
Players from both sides of the Atlantic compete for points in their respective Tour events to earn a coveted place on the team. Played over three days, The Solheim Cup consists of 28 matches – eight foursome matches, eight four-ball matches and 12 singles played on the final day.
Seven-year LPGA Tour veteran Christina Kim returns to the Solheim Cup this season after narrowly missing the 2007 U.S. Team. Remembered for pumping the crowd up at Crooked Stick in 2005, she has a 2-1-1 overall Solheim Cup record to her name. Kim is a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, and looks to bring her positive energy back to this year’s U.S. squad. A fan-favorite every time she tees it up, Kim finished tied for third at the 2009 RICOH Women’s British Open and seventh at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major championship of the year. Her two career victories came at the 2004 Longs Drugs Challenge and at The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions in 2005. The 25-year-old has more than $3 million in career earnings and has racked up 35 top-10 finishes since her rookie season in 2003. Prior to becoming a member of the LPGA Tour, Kim earned medalist honors at the 2001 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, where she recorded a career-low 62, for the stroke-play portion of the event.
The first LPGA Tour rookie to qualify for the U.S. Solheim Cup team since Paula Creamer in 2005, Michelle Wie used the strength of five top-10 finishes to earn enough points for Captain Beth Daniel to give her the nod as one of two captain’s picks. Wie competed in several match play competitions as an amateur and brings solid experience to the team. During her amateur career, she was the youngest USGA champion in an adult event when she won the 2003 USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 13. One year later, she was a member of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team, posting a 2-2 record. She also nearly defended her USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship title, finishing runner-up to Yani Tseng. As one of the LPGA Tour’s top rookies this season, Wie has carded 65 percent of her rounds under par and averages 267 yards off the tee.
Guess what folks?! Another Korean woman just won another US golf title: Jennifer Song won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the Red Tail Golf Club near Boston on Sunday. And she beat another Korean-American – Kimberly Kim – in the finals to take the title. What are we feeding Korean woman to win all these golf tournaments? Oh and btw, in the professional ranks, Jiyai Shin won the Wegman’s LPGA Championship this past weekend. What is it with Korean women? So the Public Links Championship seems to be a feeder system for Korean women golfers.
Korean-American Pearl Sinn grabbed the title two consecutive years in 1988 and 1989, and Michelle Wie rose to stardom in 2003 by becoming the youngest champion ever at the age of 14. Lee Eun-jung, then a student at the Daewon Foreign Language High School, was a surprise winner in 2005, and Korean-American Tiffany Joh claimed the title twice in 2006 and 2008.
Michelle Wie is the most heralded female golfer in the world but she’s not the best: that honor goes to Lorena Ochoa of Mexico. However, behind Ochoa are dozens of Korean players who have the talent to win on tour, as evident with Jiyai Shin’s win this past weekend at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Of the 122 international players on the LPGA tour, 47 are of South Korean descent. When we traveled a month ago to New Jersey for the Sybase Classic, we were given special access to cover the tournament. What we discovered quickly when we first walked into the dining area was the obvious prominence of Korean players. Many of the players had families members accompany them. The challenge for these ladies is to master the English language and better engage sponsors. Their performance is definitely not in question. So what separates the Korean players apart? Here’s an interesting response from Jiyai Shin over the weekend.
“We want to boost the image of Korea,” Jiyai Shin said in Korean. “Even though we might not always be physically competitive with players from other countries, we want to overcome that with will power. That’s the mind-set I try to have.”
It’s not always easy just because you’re Korean, female and a professional golfer. Below is an interview with Jeehae Lee from a month ago. She’s a LPGA rookie and she shares a little bit about what it’s like playing professional golf.
Yesterday at the Sybase Classic (presented by ShopRite), we attended the ProAm and the last set of practice rounds for the players. The LPGA does a great job with their ProAms and it was evident by the enthusiasm of the participants. If you ever do a ProAm, you’ll be lucky to be in Christina Kim’s group. She is full of flavor and life and makes the experience that much more enjoyable. She’ll also out dress you with her very colorful outfits, but then again it does match her personality. So back to Miss Wie, the most notable LPGA golfer in the tournament. Much has been said and written about Michelle Wie. Imagine if you were in your teens and you had the whole world critical of every move you made. Surprisingly, she’s held up very nicely though her play has diminished the last couple of years. When we met her yesterday, her gentle voice did not match her imposing athletic build or skills. Her parents were always next to her at the practice range and at the interviews. She spent a lot of her time on her wedges at the range. All eyes were on Michelle at the range and it was difficult to take pictures of her because there was a crowd behind her carefully watching every swing. Below is Michelle’s interview.