Sponsors still win as Wie finishes last

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The Independent Online

Michelle Wie finished dead last in the European Masters yesterday. She added a 79 to her opening 77, to be 15-over-par and it might be thought that embarrassment would have broken out all round, given a performance that resulted in her missing the projected cut by around 14 shots.

Not so, though. Wie said: "Days like this don't scare me away, they just make me more motivated." George O'Grady, the executive director of the European Tour said he was more embarrassed about some of the players not present - Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley, Ernie Els, all in Singapore - than anyone actually playing in Crans, and Wie's sponsor, Omega, could hardly be embarrassed at record-breaking crowds and standing room only in the media centre.

And so the contradiction that is Wie continues. This long, leggy, 16-year-old Hawaiian, who would not be out of place on a catwalk, is increasingly demonstrating that she is out of place in men's golf, while at the same time attracting massive publicity for every tournament that has the wherewithal to invite her.

It is believed Wie received $250,000 (£134,000) for this excursion, a sum that would be increased by having to fly Team Wie, that is her parents and caddie, from the United States. There will be more of the same next week when she plays in the men's US Tour event, the 84 Lumber Classic, and sources estimate her earnings since turning professional on October 11 last year to be close to $19m.

For a teenager whose only win at national level came at the age of 13, when she took the US Amateur Public Links title, that is quite a return. She is feted at a quite extraordinary level, having been made a member of the Omega "family" which includes the likes of Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman.

Her failure this week is only making more strident the opinions of those European tour members who object to her presence in the tournament. Although she has a talent for striking the ball, it is obvious to everyone that her short game is nowhere near the standard required for a touring professional.

Recently an American pro, Daniel Chopra, summed up many masculine feelings when he said: "She has the opportunity to become perhaps the greatest lady player of them all. At the moment, though, she is wasting her time." But Wie is heedless, saying yesterday: "You cannot learn to play with the men by playing with the women, it is so different. I just have to keep on doing this."

Back at the coalface, Sergio Garcia, eighth in the world rankings and the defending champion, was on five under, having missed six-foot putts on the 17th and 18th holes that would have put him alongside the leaders, Marcel Siem, Bradley Dredge and Andrew McLardy.

* The European Ryder Cup team member Paul McGinley's poor form continued yesterday as he missed the cut by five strokes at the Singapore Open.