Michelle Wie's rocky road

For two years I’ve been critical of the decisions Michelle Wie’s [photopress:wiewie.jpg,full,alignright]advisers and her father have been making. Suddenly others seem to be agreeing with me.

Take columns by The Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein and AP’s Doug Ferguson. Rubenstein has generally been very supportive of the road Wie is taking, but a column that appeared today makes it appear like he’s coming around on the subject:

Time Magazine this year named Michelle Wie “one of 100 people who shape our world.” But, given her recent play, the 17-year-old might need to better shape her own world.

Rubenstein and Ferguson both touch on the key issue with Wie: Her schedule.

It’s obvious that Wie’s father, B.J., orchestrates her schedule and commitments. It must be difficult to turn down the money being thrown his daughter’s way. But is her career in the long term being compromised? Should she still be playing men’s tournaments?

“The plan is to rectify the mistakes in her schedule next year,” Leadbetter said. “She’ll join the LPGA some time, but she’s also still thinking of going to college. She comes from a scholastic family. Her father and her uncle are university professors. She likes school. Michelle isn’t just a potential world superstar who just likes golf. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

I’m blown away by Leadbetter’s remarks. “Rectify” her schedule? I guess they couldn’t do that this year — BJ and her agents (some of which are now history) were too busy padding their own pockets at the expense of Wie’s further development.

Take this into consideration (from Ferguson’s piece):

She has averaged 79 in her last three men’s events. Against the women, she has failed to break par in her last eight rounds.

Wie is a great talent, though her short game has long been questionable, and recently she can’t keep her driver in play either. At some point the novelty has to wear off — but let’s hope there’s a way to rebuild her confidence when that happens. Some would say she’s still confident, since she makes ridiculous comments on a regular basis (“I’ll make the Ryder Cup,” or “I want to play a lot of men’s events next year,” she said. “I feel that as long as I play well it will work out.”). But given the pounding she’s taken on and off the course lately, one has to wonder how a 17-year-old can hold up under such pressure. On the other hand, maybe her handlers continue to tell her she’s the greatest, even when she’s not — equally damaging in my mind.

Rubenstein’s column is here. Ferguson’s can be found here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • RT…We seem to be on the same page on this one. I got the feeling watching her that she is a 20 year old playing golf with the emotional development of a 15 year old. Her skill was miles ahead of her ability to deal with her talent from a mental point of view.

    It was a case of too much, too fast, and I just pray for her that she can recover from all of this. She is just a kid playing among hardened professionals. She is a raw talent that needs development.

    They need to slow down. She needs to have her mind, her spirit and her body in one place before she can take the giant steps that they have been trying to take with her.

  • I think you should go a little easier on her Rob. She’s arguably the best teenage golfer in the world, but she’s still a teenager. I have no problem with her making ‘ridiculous’ comments. I’ve got a 17 year old and and ‘ridiculous’ comments and/or thoughts are pretty normal.

  • Your comment “BJ and her agents (some of which are now history) were too busy padding their own pockets at the expense of Wie’s further development.” is way over the top in my opinion. Care to provide proof of her father “padding his pocket”.

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