Ten Golfer Michelle Wie Gets New Agent
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Michelle Wie has a new agent, the second significant change in the golf prodigy’s camp in the last 10 weeks following the dismissal of her caddie.
Ross Berlin, whom the William Morris Agency hired specifically to handle Wie, has taken a management position with the PGA Tour.
He will be replaced by Greg Nared, a Nike manager who spent nearly three years recruiting Wie to the swoosh. Nike signed her to a five-year deal when she turned pro last year at age 16, and Wie signed other multiyear deals with Sony and Omega. Her earnings _ on the course, endorsements and appearance fees _ her first year were expected to approach $20 million.
Berlin spent his summer traveling the globe with high school senior from Hawaii, and had been seen at PGA Tour headquarters in recent weeks. Speculation increased that he was on the verge of leaving when he was not at the Samsung World Championship last week in California, the first tournament Wie played that he missed.
Wie finished 17th in the 20-player field, putting a dour end to her first year as a pro. While she had at least a share of the lead on the back nine of the first three majors on the LPGA Tour this year, she failed to win and stumbled badly during the final three months.
She withdrew from the John Deere Classic with heat exhaustion. After a tie for 26th in the Women’s British Open, she fired caddie Greg Johnston, a situation that became awkward when the Wie family asked Berlin to tell the caddie he no longer was needed.
Wie played twice more against the men, finishing last in the European Masters in Switzerland and the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania.
Ken Sunshine Consultants, a New York public relations firm that works with the Wie family, announced the hiring of Nared and said it was sorry to see Berlin leave.
``Ross was a trusted and valuable member of our team,″ the statement said.
Berlin, who formerly worked with soccer’s governing body in Switzerland and managed the Ryder Cup at Valderrama, was in charge or marketing for the World Golf Championships and most recently was vice president of sponsor relations on the PGA Tour when he left last summer to join William Morris and work with Wie.
Nared, who played college basketball at Maryland, had been with Nike for 14 years, most recently as the special projects manager for the company’s U.S. Sports Marketing Division. He had spent eight years as Nike’s business affairs manager, working with Tiger Woods when the world’s No. 1 player signed with Nike upon turning pro in 1996.
Nared was a constant presence on tour with Wie during the last three years, and is well-liked by the family.