Wie at CN Canadian Womens Open — A Dalyesque Sideshow?

The CN Canadian Womens Open should have it all. Lorena Ochoa will defend. Annika will make her final appearance, and most of the remaining Top 50 in womens’ golf will be coming to Ottawa for the tournament in August.

With all that fire power, it surprises me that the RCGA and CN announced yesterday that it will extend an invitation for the tournament to troubled Hawaiian teenager Michelle Wie. It is the second year in a row that Wie has been offered an exemption.

We are delighted to welcome Michelle Wie back to Canada for the 2008 CN Canadian Womens Open, said Sean Van Kesteren, Tournament Director, CN Canadian Womens Open. Michelles global notoriety will no doubt attract a following at Ottawa Hunt and Im sure golf fans will offer Michelle a tremendous welcome as she challenges the worlds best players.

Read that canned quote carefully — “global notoriety,” is the key phrase. Why? Because Wie is a shadow of her former self, unable to play to her previous levels. In fairness, she’s demonstrated flashes of her former abilities, thought rarely in more than one round a tournament. She’s played in five events this year — making the cut in two, with finishes of 72cnd and 24th. Hardly challenging Ochoa or Sorenstam, now is she?

So why is the RCGA catering to her? Is there still hope she can become the golfer many dreamed of just three short years ago? I assume the RCGA — likely rightfully — expects Wie will sell tickets for the tournament at Ottawa’s Hunt Club. My only question there is why? Both London in 2006 and Edmonton last year were strong sellers, and only one had Wie.

That said, the sad truth is that likely more casual sports fans are aware of Wie than Ochoa. Call it the John Daly effect. If Daly and newcomer Anthony Kim show up at the Canadian Open, who has the bigger gallery? That’s right — JD, though he’s largely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, while Kim looks like he could become a competitor for Tiger Woods.

And Wie is the same way. I do hope people enjoy following her on Friday at the CN Canadian Womens Open while she shoots 78.

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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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