She's only sixteen!
Being a relatively new golfer I can identify with Michelle Wie's recent bid to try and make the cut at the Casio Open in Japan this weekend. You've got to give her credit…she keeps on trying. After six attempts in men's events Wie still hasn't come up with one Sunday finish.
Chalk it all up to nerves.
Nerves can play havoc with a golfer right from the first tee straight through a round of golf. I don't care whether you're Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie or a beginner just trying to make your first drive of the day. If there are several people standing around waiting to see your swing (or you think they even care) right down to the wire when you putt into a hole for bogey and the guy before you putts in first making the hole that much smaller, being nervous can make you do stupid things. Even the best golfers miss putts from five feet and in, choking on a relatively simple putt that never would have missed if they were on the practice green. So how is it so impossible to reason that Michelle Wie would miss relatively easy putts like the one at 18 which would have given her the score she needed to move on to the weekend?
Michelle isn't the only golfer who has come up short when the chips were down. In 1996 at the Masters Greg Norman let a six-stroke lead disappear to Nick Faldo. Several weeks ago Tiger Woods, the best darn golfer in the world, allowed David Howell to defeat him in Shanghai with putting that just wasn't up to par.
I blame her mistakes on inexperience and nerves, nothing more. I scan through the golf blogs on the internet and found that most bloggers really think Michelle has a chance.
In thegolfblog.com, although there are people that don't believe Wie should take a spot away from the men on tour the writer has a point about the sponsors' interest in the phenom, "blame the sponsors of the tournament. They're the ones inviting the golfers, and they foot the bill." Some tournaments suffer from a lack of interest in their event. Putting Wie in the mix would solve that problem. For example, in Japan Wie had hundreds of followers on the course where last year's winner David Smail had only a handful of viewers.
Try to recall the names of golfers on the PGA Tour. I bet you can only come up with ten or twenty. But everyone around the globe, from the US to Japan knows the name of sixteen-year-old Wie.
And I'll bet that if the Masters' ratings slip a little, Michelle Wie's management will be getting a phone call from Hootie.
As far as the LPGA is concerned, Michelle Wie's camp possibly thinks of this step as a marketing no-no, that it doesn't benefit her career. I don't. I believe that Wie should be able to win a at least a single tournament in the women's market also, if not just for the purpose of having women around the world become a cheering section for her.
Wie is getting pulled around both by her dad, her new management, Nike, Sony and everyone else who wants a piece of her for their own growth. Poor Michelle...she doesn't seem to have any say in her own future. Being a teenager sure has it's disadvantages!
Michelle will eventually come back from these distressful incidents. Let's hope she figures things out before she turns 21 or she might not be able to change her path.
Getting back to the present, I predict that Wie will play at the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii in January filled with renewed confidence. She will make the cut this time and will start her LPGA season on a strong not. I think she might even win an LPGA tournament. She does especially well at the majors so I'm hoping all of the jitters she encounters when playing will all but disappear once her confidence comes through. She's a great player already and can only get better.
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