Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Curious Case of Michelle Wie

Watching Michelle Wie in the SBS Open in Hawaii was a blast, until Wie imploded over the final eight holes.

Here’s what Michelle Wie does for the LPGA Tour:

On Saturday night, I made a point of watching her try to win her first professional event, the now-defunct SBS Open in Hawaii.

Wie didn’t win, of course. She let a three-shot lead with eight holes remaining evaporate while the sneaky-good Angela Stanford showed the 19-year-old how tournaments are won.

Admittedly, had I been someplace other than a hotel room halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte on Valentine’s night the chances of me watching Wie would have been, well, wee.

The point is, however, that Wie is an attention magnet. Nothing against Angela Stanford but if she had been battling Cristie Kerr over the closing holes, the NBA All-Star challenge might have been more appealing.

But it was Michelle Wie playing for a trophy and that’s a very good thing for the LPGA Tour.

Like Benjamin Button, Wie is a curious case. To say she’s always been more famous than she’s been good is not entirely correct because for a time Wie was an outstanding player, regularly threatening in major championships.

Then she became a mess.

Now, before her 20th birthday, Wie seems to have run the circle of fame already. She was new, fresh and loved, she crashed hard and now she’s on the rebound.

For all of her immense fame, it’s worth remembering that Wie hasn’t won a golf tournament in six years. Put another way, she was 13 the last time she won.

Her nerves showed in the final round Saturday. (As others have suggested this week, maybe the LPGA should consider more Saturday finishes to get a little more bang).

Wie hit a couple of bad tee shots, couldn’t hole putts when she had to and had a front-row seat to watch Stanford win for the third time since last fall.

Afterward, Wie said the experience reminded her of what it felt like to be in the chase. It didn’t end the way she wanted but she was there again.

She’ll be there again and again. And with happier endings – soon.


Cedar Posts said...

Michelle Wie has game, perhaps it is the LPGA that needs to work on the basics.

2009 will be a tough year for the LPGA, but the "men" need to watch the numbers too, ticket price increases. lower attendance and declines in TV revenues UGH!

Then April comes along and at least for a few weeks and we'll all forget about budgets, tickets sales, draw and televison ratings at least until Masters Sunday that is.