DUBAI // Organisers of the Dubai Ladies Masters received a timely boost yesterday afternoon as Michelle Wie took her place on the first tee for the pre-tournament pro-am.
The American star, the main attraction again this year, caused a certain panic on Monday when illness forced her to skip media commitments and then the Challenge Match that traditionally marks the beginning of the event at Emirates Golf Club.
Rumours had suggested Wie was suffering from acute pain in her appendix, she tweeting on Monday: "Morning spent in the ER = no fun …"
However, the 23-year-old Hawaiian was back on familiar terrain - this is Wie's fourth successive appearance in Dubai - for the pro-am, where her talent drew audible gasps from the amateurs who made up her fourball.
Wie will no doubt be keen to improve on her Majlis Course debut when the tournament begins today, having finished runner-up in 2009 despite a superb final-round charge of 65, or seven-under par.
There are several significant obstacles in Wie's way this week, though, with her compatriot and defending champion Lexi Thompson attempting to retain her crown, China's Shanshan Feng, the world No 6 and recent major championship winner; Laura Davies, England's future Hall of Famer, and Seo Hee-kyung, the South Korean with eight top-10 finishes this season on the US LPGA Tour.
The winner of the Ladies European Tour (LET) has also to be decided in Dubai, with Spain's Carlota Ciganda battling to fend off the challenge of Caroline Masson, the second-placed German.
The LET's season finale carries a total prize fund of €500,000 (Dh2.4 million). The winner receives €75,000.