So, 20-year old Michelle Wie has finally won a full-field event on the LPGA Tour – the CN Women’s Canadian Open.
That came this past weekend at St. Charles Country Club in mosquito-ravaged Winnipeg. Golf fans have been listening to Wie’s name for a decade, usually in conjunction with the words “phenom” or “future superstar.” Turns out, she is neither. Although, at just 20 years old, should we even be judging? Fact is, we’d all be a lot better off if the “experts” in the media would simply stop trying to predict the future.
Wie burst onto the golf scene in 2000, when she qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at ten years old. Two years later, Wie became the youngest ever to qualify for an LPGA Tour event when she was in the field at the Takefuji Classic, held in Wie’s home state of Hawaii. In 2003, she made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The youngest ever, at 13, to pull that off. In 2004, she received an exemption to play in the PGA TOUR’s Sony Open. She was just the fourth female to ever play in a PGA TOUR event. Babe Zaharias (qualified for 1945 Los Angeles Open), Annika Sorenstam (invited to play in 2003 Colonial) and Suzy Whaley (qualified for 2003 Greater Hartford Open) all beat Wie to the punch…but none of them was just 14 at the time.
At this point, everyone who knew even a little about golf knew who Michelle Wie was. We were simply waiting for her to turn professional and “explode” onto the LPGA scene. Never happened.
It seemed like they kept ponying her out at PGA TOUR events…and she kept taking a hard-working male professional’s place…and she kept missing the cut. Then, just before her 16th birthday, she announced she was turning pro…and companies backed trucks full of money into her driveway.
In her first event as a pro, she was DQ’d for turning in a scorecard containing a score lower than the one she took. And the controversy swirling around Wie has really never stopped. The untimely “injury” withdrawals from tournaments (especially as her score is ballooning) and her father’s meddling have been the two big attention-grabbers. Throughout her teenage years, Wie literally fumbled and bumbled her way through PGA and LPGA Tour events. Despite the expert predictions, Wie was nowhere near ready – especially between the ears – to win anything.
Then, in August 2009, United States Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel decided, shockingly, that Wie would be a captain’s pick. And, instantly, everything changed for Michelle Wie. She spent a week on the same team as LPGA legends and stars Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr. Wie went 3-0-1 and helped the USA defeat Europe 16-12. Then, two months later, Wie won her first limited-field LPGA event – the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico. Now, Wie has a second win…although neither has come in the United States. Wie still has a long way to go to live up to all the predictions written about her.
I don’t mind reading the facts about sports, but the media forecasting about athletes’ futures has become absolutely worthless. Stephen Strasburg could tell you all about that today.
Let’s stick to reporting the games, and spend a little less time trying to anoint the next Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan or Jack Nicklaus or Nolan Ryan. Especially if, way more often than not, it’s just a lot of hot air.