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Wie 1-Over, Column Misunderstood

Michelle Wie played a fine round yesterday, shooting 1-over par. She’ll still struggle to make the cut, and tends to wilt under pressure, but she’s put herself in position. Good for her.

That said, a number of people took issue with my National Post column regarding Wie. Several thought I was being too hard on her. In fact, the column wasn’t meant to be about Wie at all. She was just an example. The basis of the column was that several PGA Tour events — those like Reno-Tahoe that compete with an existing event, or those that will never see Tiger Woods — turn to the likes of Wie or Daly to capture some attention.

Wie is just a symptom of this. PGA Tour events invite her because they are tier-two or tier-three and feel the need for some publicity. By doing so, and not offering an exemption to a player who can’t likely make the cut — and struggles to do so these days on the LPGA Tour — does a disservice to other professional male golfers.

Is Michelle Wie a great golfer? I think she was a very good one at one time. These days the jury is out. She’s never won anything on the LPGA Tour and is living on past glories. Her inability to be competitive on the LPGA Tour is the reason she shouldn’t be in the field at the Reno-Tahoe.

But the truth be told, I don’t think the Reno-Tahoe should exist at all. Conflict events on the PGA Tour should disappear.

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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.

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Mr.T,

    Shooting 1 over at a 7400-yard golf course (albeit in altitude), male or female, under competetive condition, is a damned good score.

    For what it’s worth, I think she has not lost her game. Her main obstacle on the course is her inability to play a consistent schedule. If she or her handlers allow her to play a more consistent scehdule, I am 90% sure she will be in the top tier on the LPGA. Making the cut at the PGA is a different story.

    Having said that, her stated goal is not just to play on the LPGA. So she will probably continue to be a bit of a side show for the next little while.

  • Another note:

    Jay Williamson, who criticized Wie’s decision to play at Reno while being interviewed at the Abbey last week, shot a 74 to Wie’s 71.

  • Alex Kovalev probably shouldn’t have been in the field in Moscow based on his performances on any tour, but there was little to no complaint about that.

  • I would still bet that one day, she’ll make a PGA cut. Whether that’s good enough to keep offering exemptions is another story.

  • It’s a joke. So what if she makes a cut after 25 attempts? Does anyone really think she has a shot at winning? If they want to invite a lady, maybe they should ask one of the top LPGA players, like Miss Ochoa.

  • If all this effort is to prove she can make a mens cut….then….i guess maybe some day she might….i just thought though…?…(insert scratch head) that the idea was to enter tourneys to win….not eek out a made cut ……only to try and defend her by highlighting the few guys who finished worse than her due to a bad week…….sigh…………

  • RT, I would agree if she was a guy on the men’s tour, but for a lady, 9 over might not be that bad. She just shouldn’t be playing with the boys.

  • “So what if she makes the cut after 25 tries?” I’m curious, Henrye — would you say that about a young man who was struggling to make it on the PGA tour?

    There are dozens and dozens of guys who will never win on tour, who are battling just to make cuts and compete at the highest level. Nobody ever questions their aspirations. But some of you are essentially saying that she shouldn’t have those aspirations because she’s a woman.

    If you were a young black ballplayer in the negro leagues, and someone offered you a chance to play for the Dodgers, even if you hadn’t won a bunch of awards in black baseball, would you say “No, I should really become a star here rather than try my luck in the majors. We have our own league, although the talent level’s not as good.”

    I’m not saying that women’s golf is equivalent to segregation or that anyone who questions Michelle Wie’s abilities is like a racist. (So please spare me that particular outrage.) But think about it — would you let your race, or your gender, restrict your ambitions? She wants to play golf at the highest level, not star in the women’s golf ghetto. Do you, male reader, dream of playing in the LPGA? No? Funny, neither does she.

  • Guynick,

    No one says she has to play the LPGA forever, but it might be a good idea to become a half-way decent player before she tries the elite tour on the planet. Sure many people dream of playing on the PGA tour, the difference is we don’t get to give it a try because of some special connections we have through sponsors etc. She’s turning herself into a sideshow gimmick instead of a serious athelete. Also, to call the LPGA the women’s golf ghetto, shows a complete lack of understanding of professional sport in general. How many women do you see in major league baseball?, how about the NFL?, how about world cup soccer?, how about the NHL? – want me to go on?…….get a clue.

  • Old Tom,

    1. The point isn’t the amount of time you say she has to play the LPGA. It’s that you say she “has to” play it for any amount of time while she has opportunities at a higher level. She might well benefit from playing more on the LPGA when eligible — but it wouldn’t be your place to dictate that to her, even if you were the actual Old Tom. It’s her career and she’s an independent contractor. If and when the exemptions dry up, she’ll play the highest level of golf she’s eligible for or retire, just like everyone else does.

    2. She is already well past being a “halfway decent” golfer — she breaks par sometimes on tough courses and has enough power to drive it with men. She doesn’t always keep it straight or get it up and down? That makes her no different than a vast roster of guys with potential who we see failing to make cuts every week. If she has to shelve those aspirations because she’s female, then yes, the LPGA is a ghetto.

    3. “How pro sports works”? Well, she gets those opportunities because fans watch her and the money men believe they will make something from her. Golf isn’t representative government supported by taxpayers and a constitution; it’s a carnival show for profit. She is taking advantage of that, like everyone else who gets exemptions not based on current merit, from John Daly to Jack Nicklaus to all the Canadian wannabes littering the field at Glen Abbey last month.

    I still defy any dissenters to tell me that in the same position, they would turn down PGA exemptions to play an inferior tour.

  • Annika Sorrenstam got loads and loads of invites and sponsor’s exemptions to play on the pga tour. She tried it once or twice and refused them everytime after that…..one thing is for sure, Michelle Wie is no Annika Sorrenstam. One is a multi-time champion who was considered the very best in the world for an extended period of time and the other is a circus act, brought in to “shock” and “excite” with her freakness. Ofcourse she CAN do what she wants, what most of her critics are saying is that she SHOULD do something different, but hey maybe her own management company, her coach, her personal advisors are all wrong and you have it right.

  • Are you telling me the critics are really motivated by what’s best for Wie’s career? That they really want what’s best for her? To me, it sounds more like they want to put the girl in her place.

    Absolutely, Michelle Wie is no Annika Sorenstam. Neither is JL Lewis, who has made 2 of his last 14 cuts and has a stroke average almost as bad as Wie’s. Or Greg Norman, who has made 3 cuts in his last 14 going back FIVE YEARS, almost entirely on exemptions. Notwithstanding his great performance in an unusual set of circumstances at the Open, I’d probably pick Greg Norman to have considerably less future success on the PGA tour than Michelle Wie. And yet Norman caught hell for NOT taking an exemption into the PGA.

    If you have a gripe with the exemptions, your target is the sponsors, not the golfer. And Old Tom, I’m still waiting for you to confirm that you would rather play the LPGA if you had the choice.

  • I’m not sure if you have been reading up on the Wie story, but it seems (as I mentioned before) that Wie’s closest advisors have been counseling her to not accept the invites/exemptions to the PGA tour anymore. So it’s not just her critics, it’s the people who are paid to have her best interests in mind. JL Lewis splits his time between the Nationwide tour and the PGA tour, he plays where he can. If Wie wants to learn to play with the guys and try to compete on their level, why not work her way up through the Nationwide, or go to Q school?? Greg Norman has won over 100 golf tournaments around the world including 2 Majors, he is popular because he was a great champion and people love to see him compete. He was a giant story at the British because he was leading the tournament and was a contender, not because he showed up……Yes people wanted to see him at the PGA because he’s a great champion who has a legitimate shot at contending, not because he has signed a lucrative contract.

    Yes, if my choice was between having a good shot at competing for championships, or going out and embarrassing myself, I would choose to play the LPGA tour until such time I felt I had a legitimate chance to compete on the Nationwide or PGA tour.

  • I’ll give you the last word, Old Tom, but I still believe that while she’s getting more opportunities because of her gender, she’s also taking way more heat than other golfers in similar positions, due to sexism.

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