RYE, N.Y. — Michelle Wie said next year’s first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 is “definitely the same caliber, maybe even more important” than LPGA major championships.
Wie is world ranked No. 13 and would not qualify for the Rio 2016 Games if the current rankings hold through the Olympic rankings cutoff date in a little more than one year.
That’s because there are four U.S. women ranked ahead of Wie — No. 3 Stacy Lewis, No. 9 Cristie Kerr, No. 10 Brittany Lincicome and No. 11 Lexi Thompson. No more than four women from one nation ranked inside the top 15 can play in the Olympics.
Wie doesn’t mind the eligibility format that will allow golfers ranked into the 200s and probably lower into the Olympics but will almost surely keep out all American and South Korean women ranked outside the top 15.
“I think that’s the whole point about the Olympics,” Wie said ahead of the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club on Tuesday (Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 1-4 p.m. ET; NBC, Saturday-Sunday, 3-6). “It’s such a prestigious event, happens [every] four years. … You’ve got to make the top four. That’s the most important thing. That’s my priority for the next two years is to make the team. I’m going to do everything I can to do that. And you know, fortunately, I have some time to make the team, so I’m going to try to do my best this week and every single week. Rankings [are] one of those things that you can’t worry too much about. You have to focus on playing well; and if you play well and do the correct steps, then the rankings will take care of themselves.”
Wie’s current ranking is most boosted by her 2014 U.S. Women’s Open title, her first major. But the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open results will not factor into the rankings come the Olympic ranking cutoff next summer.
Wie, who hasn’t made a cut since the first weekend of May due to a left hip injury, must keep strong form this year and, more importantly, in the first half of 2016.
This year, Wie has a best finish of tied for 11th in 12 tournaments. Kerr and Lincicome each have one win this season (Lincicome’s a major), Lewis has seven top-10s and Thompson has five top-10s.
Wie traveled to Copenhagen in 2009 to lobby for golf’s Olympic inclusion, visited London during the 2012 Olympics (and met nine-time Olympic medalist track and field athlete Carl Lewis) and was named a Youth Olympic ambassador in 2013.
Wie, who played in a PGA Tour event in 2004 at age 14, has said she watched the Olympics growing up in Hawaii.
“I think that’s such a great thing about the Olympics; you end up watching sports that are not really covered on TV a lot of times,” Wie said. “Swimming was also one of my favorites. I love watching ping-pong.”