At 19, Michelle Wie has been through the full circle of stardom, and it's only now that she should be starting her LPGA career.
In reading through various stories from Daytona Beach, Fla., where Michelle Wie earned full status on the LPGA Tour Sunday, I was struck by a comment made by her instructor, David Leadbetter.
He said Michelle Wie needs the LPGA and the LPGA needs her.
It's funny how Wie seems to have been around forever and she's only 19. In fact, she's only now getting ready to start her career.
She will arrive on the 2009 LPGA tour having already lived the full circle of stardom. As a 14-year-old, Wie nearly won an LPGA major and threatened several more times before her career came unhinged two years ago.
A wrist injury started the downward spiral and it got ugly. Her game went away and so did a measure of her charm. She pulled out of a PGA Tour event with heat-related problems and walked off the course at the Ginn Tribute near Charleston, S.C., last year to avoid shooting a score so high it would have made her ineligible to play the tour the rest of the season.
Her game, which looked so great when she had the world watching her attempt to qualify for the men's U.S. Open, crumbled, taking her confidence with it.
Gradually, though, she has built back her game and when she hits the tour full time next year, the timing couldn't be better.
The LPGA Tour, which plays approximately one-third of its events outside the U.S. is feeling the effects of the economy coupled with the loss of Annika Sorenstam. Sure, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Lorena Ochoa are stars but they haven't shown the ability to pull the casual fan to them.
Michelle Wie can do that.
She has enormous star power. While the guidance she has received to this point is questionable -- she pushed the playing against the men thing way too far -- this is a fresh start for her.
When Wie tees it up in February at the SBS Open in Hawaii, it will be a new day for her and the tour.