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The Great Michelle Wie Meltdown

Michelle Wie’s first tournament back after injuring her wrist was a [photopress:wie_1_2.jpg,full,alignright]disaster of such immense proportions that she risked breaking the so-called “88” rule which, since she’s not a member, would have seen her booted off the LPGA Tour.

Wie’s round included a 10 on a par-5 and another hole in which her father seemed to provide her with advice, a violation of the rules of golf. In the end, 14-over par with two holes left to play, Wie withdrew from the tournament claiming her wrist injury had flared up again. Pretty damned convenient, when you think about it. If she bogeyed the two final holes coming in she would be banned from the LPGA Tour for a year. Instead, her wrist injury crops up and she pulls out.

This, of course, followed her strange press conference earlier in the week when she claimed to not recall when she recovered from her injury:

“I don’t really want to go back into the past and talk about the injuries.”

Sounds like politics might be her calling.

Interestingly, Canadian Alena Sharp was playing with Wie and said the teen seemed out of it from the start:

Playing partner Alena Sharp said she thought Wie would withdraw at the turn. “She didn’t look like she was there,” Sharp said. “She didn’t focus like usual.”

As for BJ Wie’s involvement in apparently coaching his daughter on the course — a no-no violation of golf rules — Sharp had some concerns:

“Anybody can say something from outside the ropes,” she said. “But he was too close. He’s always so close to her. You’re going to get your daughter in trouble. Everyone at the range was talking about it.”

Perhaps more remarkable than BJ’s involvement was this ESPN account of Wie’s 10 on a par-5:

Then came the bottom: the par-5 third hole. Wie’s tee shot veered out of bounds, into a street and down a storm drain. LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who suddenly appeared on the fringe of the fairway, stood by as a little boy got on his hands and knees to peer into the drain in search of the ball. Wie played a provisional and hooked that into a pond. She walked toward the street in hopes of finding her ball, then turned and retraced her steps to the tee for the second time in the round. She eventually carded a quintuple-bogey 10, and she stood at 12-over after 12 holes.

I’ve long held the notion that it was time for Wie to focus on the LPGA Tour, something coach David Leadbetter said she would do this year. And then she entered the John Deere and claimed Leadbetter had been misquoted in his remarks about her schedule. Now that she is having trouble breaking par on the LPGA Tour, I wonder if that invite to the John Deere — the site of her physical collapse last year — could be reconsidered. After all, she has not broken par in an LPGA event in nearly a year.

I hope the situation isn’t as grim is it appears — but this was always a car wreck waiting to happen.

Update: Chris Baldwin at Travelgolf.com rips into the LPGA for their handling of the event, as does Geoff Shackelford. Golf.com Kelli Anderson raises questions about the role of Wie’s manager, Greg Nared, in the sudden worsening of her injury:

“When an injury is in the back of you’re mind, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to hurt,'” said Wie. “The last thing you’re thinking about is trying to hit the ball straight.”

Before Wie teed off on 8, her manager, Greg Nared, approached her, and the two talked briefly. Afterward Wie told an LPGA official, “We’re not going to play anymore.”

It’s not clear whose decision it was to withdraw. During the round Wie wasn’t obviously bothered by her wrist, and she looked surprised when Nared approached her on 8. (Nared didn’t stick around to answer questions after Wie’s press conference.)

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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.

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