Monday, June 23, 2014

Michelle Wie wins first major, primed for "greatness"

I admit that in the past I have trashed LPGA golfer Michele Wie, and for perfectly good reasons. Wie was elevated to the status of the next Tiger Woods, she was showcased on not one, but two segments of 60 Minutes before she had done anything to deserve it. She received a multi-million dollar endorsement deal from Nike, merely on artificially-generated publicity. She cried and had childish tantrums when she made mistakes. She tried to put herself on her own pedestal by living in a fantasy world where she was “better” than other LPGA golfers, and that she should be playing with the “big boys” on the PGA tour. That she fell flat on her face everywhere, and then had the nerve to claim that she played “better” than what appeared. That she was paid millions of dollars (mainly in Asian and European tournaments) merely for showing up.

Coming into the 2014 season, Wie played a total of 160 tournaments, and won a grand total of 2. Her last tournament win was in 2010. But this weekend, we are hearing comments about her “road to redemption.” From Annika Sorenstam, it’s "This could be the beginning of something really big,” and “You are great for golf” from Gary Player. Even Greg Norman chimed in “Now for a great journey.”

Why all this renewed belief in the “greatness” of Michelle Wie? She actually won a major this year, when few thought she was in even in the picture at Pinehurst #2. The course seemed tougher for the women than for the men the previous week, even though their tee positions are closer to the hole. But Wie surprised, taking a four-stroke lead into the third round. But then she had her typical meltdown and entered the final round tied with Amy Yang. However, it was Yang it wilted in the early rounds, and Wie survived to win her first major in 38 tries. It was also Wie’s second win of the year and fourth of her career in 173 tournaments.

I am not, of course, ready to throw in the towel. A lot of so-called “hot” players have had a “career” year, only to disappoint; case in point is David Duvall, and perhaps Rory McIlroy is another candidate. We’ve seen supposedly “up-and-comers” like Ben Curtis and Wayne Grady win a major and disappear from view. Shaun Micheel’s 2003 PGA Championship was his only PGA tour victory, so winning a major is not precisely an endorsement of greatness to come. But in the case of Michelle Wie, the media created her, and anything she does will feed that monster.

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