Grouchy Golf Blog

Sunday, July 30, 2006 at 6:04 PM

For Michelle Wie, Close Doesn't Cut It...

Americans demand and expect a lot. It's part of our culture.

When we hear about the next and greatest "thing", we tend to expect that it is the next and greatest immediately. I remember hearing about the prospects of cold fusion decades ago. The media hyped it up to the point that I assumed that the world's energy problems were going to be solved in a matter of months. Well, like the flying car, robot maids and laser guns, that has yet to materialize.

The same phenomenon occurs in sports, including golf. The media is continuously searching for athletic phenoms to fill their headlines. When Tiger Woods started his professional career, the media quickly anointed him the successor to the great Jack Nicklaus. Some were calling Tiger the greatest golfer ever before he had even won his first tournament! The hype was astronomical and when Tiger didn't win his first few PGA events, many were stunned. But over time, Tiger eventually proved his greatness. It was an extremely rare case where reality actually met the hype.

But soon after the hype train dropped off Tiger, it picked up Michelle Wie. Only it is rolling with much more steam now. Although it is difficult to measure, it seems that the expectations for Michelle are even higher than those were for Tiger. People seem to expect Wie to win and win dominantly. Because she hasn't yet, there seems to be a wave of negativity building against Michelle. Some have already written her off altogether.

But really, hasn't the expectations gotten a little out of hand? I, for one, haven't bought into all the hype. Instead, I try to remain more realistic and simply admire her talent and ability for the time being. I'm no swing guru, but I believe that she possesses the best golf swing of any female today, maybe even ever. She has a swing that many PGA tour pros envy. With her tee to green game alone, it's just a matter of time before she chalks up her first pro win. But a great swing doesn't guarantee greatness. She could very well become the female version of Sergio Garcia...

Regardless, I feel that it is too early to expect Wie to win a pro event, especially the tournaments that she plays. Fellow teen phenom Morgan Pressel is still winless on the LPGA even though she is a full-time pro and has played in the weaker LPGA events. With her much ballyhooed amateur record, Pressel should be expected to find the winner's circle before Wie. But since the media hasn't over-hyped Pressel, she can hide comfortably in the shadow of Wie. Fair or not, the anti-Wie sentiments build with every tournament that Michelle fails to win.

But there is one place where Michelle Wie can escape this growing negativity - her parent's homeland of Korea. In fact, Korea has been making a strong push to claim Michelle Wie as their own. Don't be surprised if America's ridiculous expectations drive Michelle to apply for Korean citizenship. Heck, she only has to hit a couple of hanging metal pans with a golf ball from about 15 feet away to keep them satisfied:

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Anonymous Dale said...

Concur 100%, Grouch.

Guess I'm not the only one who's made a comparison to Pressel (who by the way, seems to have had a lot to say about Wie's presence on the pro circuit).

I will agree with the critics that Wie may not have the mental toughness (because she didn't play the junior events, yadayadayada...)to bring it in down the stretch, but I think she's getting it. Quickly. I see improvement in that area every time I watch her play.

A lot of people forget, in their comparisons to Tiger Woods to Michelle Wie, that Tiger was 19 years old before he won his first tourney. I'd bet hard cash that Wie beats that. By a lot.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tiger was the dominant junior and amateur of his time and transitioned that, near seemlessly into the pros. How many top quality amateur tourneys has Wie won? And then pro? There is no comparison to Tiger in any respect. He is a once in a lifetime phenom for his sport (male or female) similar to Jordan in basketball. He continually elevates his game above the rest because he knows how to win and does so consistently. Like any other skill in golf, coming together down the back 9 of 72 requires the training and skill only winning can provide. Count me as one who is unimpressed in Wie in all regards.  


Blogger Evil Chasmodian said...

Anonymous just wanted to prove your point, Grouch... *sigh* Miss Wie is SIXTEEN YEARS OLD, PEOPLE!!! She's barely legal enough to DRIVE A CAR. She has a couple of years of HIGH SCHOOL left. She hasn't yet had a PROM. Yet, in spite of the fact that she is a K.I.D., she is playing COMPETITIVELY at golf's highest level against the BEST ADULT PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.

Criminy!! I keep trying to see things from Wie's dectractors' points of view but I cannot get my head that far up my a**... You people act as though it's no big deal to manage to WIN a golf tournament if you are a great player. If this "logic" were true, Annika and Tiger would win pretty much every tourny they signed up for.

Wie is the BOMB. To me, it's SCARY how good she is and I cannot wait to see how good she GETS when she reaches the riped OLD age of TWENTY...  


Anonymous Florida Mike said...

The young lady is truly phenominal~ I have enjoyed watching her play and her skills are getting better and better. This is one american who is willing to just watch and enjoy Ms Wie's career and will withhold judgement for a few years. I remember clearly what was said about Tiger at first. The Tiger detractors were proven fools and the Michelle detractors will be proven the same.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to weigh in as differing opinion to the original post and subsequent posters.

First, I do not enjoy the media coverage of golf in general anymore. They ad nauseum force feed us certain individuals at the expense of the rest of the field. Animosity towards Wie and Tiger grows out of that poor coverage.

Second, the threat of Wie eschewing US citizenship for Korean nationality due to public dissatisfaction is an absurd and near-hysterical statement. I am pretty sure her dual nationality is already in effect anyway which does not change anything at all. Her parents are Koreans, so nationality for a foreign born child is not unheard of (i.e. many European countries have done this for years like Ireland, Spain, etc.).

Third, comparing the failures of others to prop up the image of Wie is pathetic. Morgan Pressel is not the standard to measure Michelle by, that standard is a PGA cut or US Open cut (Men's event cut). That standard has been set by Team Wie, not her detractors. They have aimed very high, which exacerbates the media hype machine reaction and subsequent let down to Wie.

Last, Wie is a fine golfer. She will succeed. The only question is when. If she does not win soon, the media will forget about her for a while (might be good), diminishing her appeal. My final wish is that she plays well and enjoys her unique talent.  


Blogger CHARLIE said...

charlie...deerfield beach, fl. if you think the press is out of hand with the michelle wie hype....god help us when she eventualy wins!!!! i'll probably never watch golf again! or maybe i'll just turn down the volume and enjoy watching all the golfers do thier thing.  


Blogger bii said...

Regardless of age, talent or sex why is not making the cut considered to be so newsworthy by the press? Actually, anyone can do this. I wish the press would focus their attention to those that are leading the tournament rather than those who are consistently on the bottom.  


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