American superstar Michelle Wie added her voice to a campaign by the United Nations’ children’s charity UNICEF for universal primary education in Asia during a brief stop in Hong Kong. Tim Maitland reports.
Wie was speaking at the annual HSBC Champions Charity Golf Day at Hong Kong’s Clear Water Bay Golf & Country Club, which raises awareness and funds for UNICEF’s campaign.
“I believe everyone should have the opportunity to get, at least, a primary education,” declared the 22-year-old.
“I’ve learned so much about myself going to college, not just from studies but about myself in general: moving away from my parents, having to do everything for myself, having to manage everything, I met some amazing people and I think everyone deserves that opportunity. Hopefully I’ll graduate in March. Getting my education, obviously, I believe very strongly in that… and I think it aligns very strongly with this day,” added Wie, who was en route from last week’s LPGA event in Malaysia to Stanford University in California where she is finishing her fifth and final year of a degree in communications.
The Honolulu-born Wie, who as a 12-year old became the youngest qualifier for an LPGA tournament, was making only her second trip to Hong Kong. He first, a family holiday twelve years ago, was ruined by a typhoon.
She cited “YE” Yang Yong-Eun’s achievement in becoming Asia’s firs male Major champion and the current domination of Taiwan’s current world number one Yani Tseng in the women’s game as proof of what Asians can achieve when they’re given the chance.
“She’s an amazing golfer. I’ve competed against her since I was fourteen and the way she has improved is very inspiring. She’s a very strong force out there whenever she is in contention, which I think is very impressive and it makes me want to become a better player because I’m kind of in her situation. There are so many players on tour from different places; you have the American players but you have Yani, Shanshan (Feng of China) and all the Korean players and players from Asia where opportunities may not be as available but when one is given the opportunity it’s amazing what they can do with it: that’s so important. It’s just giving people the opportunity and seeing what they can do. If they aren’t given the opportunity you never know what might have happened. You might have the next genius, but they can’t get into primary education; it’s important to give people a chance.”
Michelle Wie also took to the golf course as part of the event, which was the culmination of HSBC charity days across Asia that had already raised HK$ 1.5m for the UNICEF Child-Friendly Schools programme in over 20 countries. The events are part of the bank’s build up to next month’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai; the continent’s highest-ranked men’s tournament.
Wie singled that tournament out as an example of what Asia has been able to achieve once it got the chance to host top-quality golf. The HSBC Champions has been a World Golf Championship event since 2009. Meanwhile the women continue their “autumn swing” playing the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship this week and the Mizuno Classic in Japan in two weeks time. They’ll return to Asia in February for the “spring swing” which normally includes the Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
“I think over the last few years the women’s tour has become very global, but watching the men’s tour on TV it’s also become very global as well. I think HSBC does a fantastic job of making world-class events and in Singapore and Shanghai you can see the results of that. Players love coming over here. It’s always a fun time. I love coming back to Singapore every year,” Wie said.
Michelle Wie in Asia: photo credit