The 6-foot, 1-inch (1.85 m) Michelle Wie, at the age of 16, has an average drive of about 280 yards, about 10 yards farther than the 5-foot, 6-inch Sorenstam's average and only slightly behind the average on the PGA TOUR, and regularly is able to hit drives of over 300 yards, modeling her swing after Ernie Els, who has said of her, "Give her another couple years to get stronger, she can play on the PGA TOUR." Her size and use of Els as a model have led sports media to call her The Big Wiesy, a play on Els nickname of The Big Easy. Fred Couples has also lauded her, saying, "When you see her hit a golf ball, there's nothing that prepares you for it. It's just the scariest thing you've ever seen." As to Wie's potential impact on the sport, Arnold Palmer stated in 2003 that "she's probably going to influence the golfing scene as much as Tiger, or more. She's going to attract people that even Tiger didn't attract, young people, both boys and girls, and families."
On October 5, 2005, less than a week before her 16th birthday, Michelle Wie announced in Hawaii that she was turning professional, reportedly signing sponsorship contracts with Nike and Sony worth more than US$10 million per year. She also announced that she would pledge US$500 thousand to the victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Wie played her first event as a professional in the limited-field Samsung World Championship, an LPGA event open only to elite professional players based on their current standing on the LPGA money list, status as past tournament winners or other accomplishments. Wie was invited to participate while still an amateur on a sponsor's exemption." The four-day, no-cut tournament was played at Palm Desert, California from October 13 through 16, 2005. Annika Sorenstam won the tournament by an 8 stroke margin over Paula Creamer. Wie scored rounds of 70, 65, 71 and 74 and was initially credited with a fourth place finish, which would have earned her approximately US$53,000. However, shortly after signing her scorecard, rules officially were alerted by a reporter to a possible infraction of the Rules on the seventh hole of the third round (played the previous day). She had an unplayable lie and dropped her ball, according to Rule 28. The reporter said that she had dropped the ball nearer the hole, contrary to Rule 28. Officials and Wie tried to reconstruct the incident. The officials concluded that Wie had dropped the ball nearer the hole. The officials claimed the distance was 12 to 15 inches; Wie claimed it was only 3 inches. Regardless, both Wie and the officials acknowledged that it was a rules violation. Because Wie signed her scorecard without reporting the rules infraction, she was charged with a violation of the rules of golf for signing an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified from the tournament.