BIG FISH, BAD SMELL In the last three weeks Michelle Wie received an exemption into October's elite, 20-player Samsung Women's World Championship even though she hadn't played an LPGA event this year, and Ashleigh Simon (left), the highly touted 18-year-old from South Africa who recently turned pro, got an exemption into July's 64-player HSBC Match Play. Both free passes smell fishy, especially since both events have limited fields with performance criteria for entry. In Wie's case I think a player ought to at least play a few events before an exemption is offered or accepted. That would have meant only a three-week delay for Michelle, as she is scheduled to play in this week's Ginn Tribute and next week's McDonald's LPGA Championship. Players--some of whom have already qualified for the World Championship--were justifiably upset at the Wie announcement. A little patience by Samsung and Wie would have defused the situation. Simon is often compared with Wie, and the conditions of her exemption have caused as much disharmony because Simon recently signed with IMG. Guess who owns the Match Play? You got it: IMG. Sponsor exemptions are great for fans and for tour-sponsor relations, but if they aren't properly managed, they can alienate other players and hurt the tour's reputation.
HIT THE WALL Annika Sorenstam has decided to honor the LPGA's founders and the association's history at the Ginn Tribute, the first LPGA event she has hosted. That's a great way to say thank you to those who were true trailblazers. At the same time, the PGA Tour's Colonial is fighting for its life because of a tough new date and a course that some feel is too short. This is sad because Colonial Country Club drips with the history of golf and with the memories of those who paved the way for the prosperity and success of today's Tour. Ben Hogan's presence can still be felt everywhere on the property, and the champions' wall is a spot that everyone should see. Whatever the Fort Worth stop needs to regain its former glory should be provided--even if it means sacrificing a few commercial gains.
Dottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel, welcomes questions at email@example.com.
KARL MATHIS/KEYSTONE/AP (SIMON); BETTMANN/CORBIS (HOGAN)