Michelle Wie: Million-Dollar Teen

Michelle Wie: Million-Dollar Teen
Michelle Wie
Ronen Zilberman/AP

updated 10/06/2005 at 05:00 PM EDT

originally published 10/06/2005 05:00PM

Fifteen-year-old golf phenom Michelle Wie became a millionaire Wednesday when she announced she's turning pro – and the Hawaii native has already pledged $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Relief Fund.

Wie has signed endorsement deals with Nike and Sony said to be worth $10 million a year. And next week she will make her professional debut on the LPGA Tour at the Samsung World Championship.

After announcing that she's turning pro – less than a week before her 16th birthday – the 6-ft.-tall Wie said she planned to return to the private Punahou School that she attends in time for "Japanese or drawing, depending on how long this thing lasts."

Still, Wie is not like most kids her age. "My goal is the Masters," Wie told PEOPLE in 2003. "I want to play on the PGA tour."

Only 4 when she started playing, Wie trounced Hawaii's best female amateurs at 11. "And she's been practicing her autograph since she was 7," her mother, Bo, a Realtor and former golf champ in Korea, told PEOPLE at the time.

At age 9, she was beating both her mom and her father, B.J. at golf. In 2000, Wie became the youngest golfer (age 10) to qualify for match play at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

"The first time I grabbed a golf club, I knew I'd do it for the rest of my life," Wie said in a press conference Tuesday. "Some 12 years later, I'm finally turning pro, and I'm so excited."

But that's likely just the beginning for Wie: In 2003, she told Sports Illustrated for Kids that her life goals are to earn a scholarship to Stanford (Tiger Woods's alma mater), to become the world's No. 1 female golfer, and to compete in the Masters at Augusta National – a course that no woman has ever played. "I'm not looking to prove a point," Wie said at the time. "I just want to play the best there is."

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