Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, August 29, 2005 at 1:08 AM

Wie Goin' Pro...

More clues are emerging that indicate Michelle Wie will turn pro sooner rather than later. My local paper, the Los Angeles Times, reported Saturday that she is "close to signing with the William Morris Agency, which would end her amateur career." According to an unnamed insider, "the agency offered Wie a large guarantee and also cut its commission to nothing."

This isn't surprising to me as it makes a lot of common sense. However, critics will say that Wie isn't ready for a pro career yet and point to her lack of wins as the primary reason. But did anyone seriously think that Michelle should have won the tournaments that she played this year? It would have been a minor miracle for any 15 year-old to win any of the events that she played. Her results so far have been more than impressive. Nonetheless, the standard argument is that there is an "art to winning" and that Michelle just hasn't learned it yet. As Al Davis would say, "Just Win, Baby." While I do believe that this argument holds merit, as it has worked for Tiger and Phil, I do not believe that it is a necessary requirement for success as a pro.

Many believe that Michelle should play amateur events to rack up these all-important wins. But there are a number of accomplished amateur golfers who haven't done jack at the pro level. Consider the prestigious U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA championship that crowned it's 105th champion this weekend. It is considered to be one of the hardest golf tournaments to win. It's tough just to qualify to play in the tournament, let alone win the darn thing. Over the last 20 years, here are some of the names of its past champions: Sam Randolph, Buddy Alexander, Eric Meeks, Chris Patton, Mitch Voges, John Harris, David Gossett, Jeff Quinney, and Ben "Bubba" Dickerson. While these guys earned a degree in the "art of winning," they just weren't able to take it to the next level.

On the women's side, remember Kelli Kuehne? She won two straight U.S. Women's Amateurs and the Women's British Amateur. She turned pro at the end of 1996 and hasn't done much so far.

If it's so important for Michelle to win, I'd be happy to play against her for as many heads-up matches as she wants. Whether it's match play or stroke play, I'd try my very best to beat her. But that's like William Hung trying to out-sing Sinatra. I have no doubt that Wie would win 1,000 straight matches against me without lifting a finger. Unfortunately, it wouldn't do her an ounce of good.

I think that Michelle Wie is such a gifted golfer that she'll learn the "art of winning" on the pro level. I believe that her deep experience on the pro tours has been more beneficial to her than if she would have played on the amateur circuit. She has learned what it takes to be successful on the pro tours, and she understands her weaknesses that she must improve. This knowledge would have likely been unavailable to Wie on the amateur level.

For example, while Michelle has an amazing golf game, a glaring weakness has surfaced in her game: putting. On the amateur level, Wie could have easily dominated the competition even with a shaky flat stick because the rest of her game is so phenomenal. As a result, she likely would have glossed over the importance of putting. However, on the pro level, poor putting is the kiss of death. Michelle is learning this first-hand and early in her development which she can address immediately. Tiger learned this early in his pro career, something that Michelle is learning even earlier. is already considered one of the best, so if she can turn her putting around, the wins will follow. Be patient Mr. Davis.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

By choosing a very different path than a traditionally accepted one, Wie has rattled a few cages. I personally think that her strategy is eventually going to be very very successful. How many 16 year old golfers today - man or woman - have the experience she has? Winning will come eventually and when it comes..it's going to rain. Barring any injuries, she will become Women's No 1 in less than 3 years after turning pro. The only suggestion I have for her is to focus on LPGA if she decides to turn Pro for 3 years. By then she will have the mental resilience and physical strength to play on the PGA.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. She is at an early enough stage in her career where her weak putting can be worked on. With every game, she will rack up more practice. She is going to take on this sport with force, I can see that. She is lucky to have such a talent at such a young age. Every heard of associatedcontent.com? There are many golf articles to peruse.  


Anonymous mediaguru at hookedongolfblog.com said...

I'm not sure she cares about beating the women. I think she wants to beat the men.

Al Davis... Ahhh. Football season is close.

"Just cover baby"  


Anonymous Stacey said...

Compare and contrast against Annika? She learned that playing against the men was an impossible task and humbly accepted defeat. Men are just built for drives in the shoulder/arm. She is exciting to watch though and so composed for a young lass.  


Blogger Jill said...

Whether or not she turns pro is not really the issue. Is she mature enought to handle it. So far, from what I have seen, she does not have the "mental" game yet. This only comes from hard, concentrated work at her game.  


Blogger dave said...

I want to see her turn pro and play. It has nothing to do with the time being right or her game or the mental thing. I just want to watch her play on the tour just like the others. Can't you still learn all the things you need playing against the best players? But…mine is a selfish reason I like to watch the LPGA tournaments when she is playing.  


Blogger Miranda said...

If Michelle Wie has to work on her game and mental attitude, then she should get paid for it too. I don't see anything wrong with her wanting to spend her time on the course as a pro rather than an amateur. I'm sure she has good parents who will look after her and I doubt the LPGA tour is party central where Michelle will fall prey to any number of forms of wickedness. She'll be ok and golf will be better for having her there on tv.  


Blogger Eric said...

I think Wie will end up with the most wins in the history of tournement golf... on the LPGA Tour. That would be quite an accomplishment. I think in time she might be able to make a cut in a PGA event, and maybe even win, but it would have to be in a smaller tournement. Rather than look past the LPGA and straight at the men's tour, I think she should primarily play in the LPGA Tour. Although great, I don't know if she has the physcial ability to compete on PGA courses week in and week out.

Aside from all that, I think it is exciting to see her turn pro. She can clearly compete on the LPGA Tour, and thus there is no reason to remain an amateur. The fastest way to improve is to play with better competitors.  


Blogger pebbleby15 said...

Okay - new topic. Just got off the course from the DB Championship. Followed Tiger as he hacked his way around the TPC of Boston. To my surprise Elin followed him the entire way around, no security, no friends, nada. Just hanging out, fighting through the throng of fans like me. Can anyone explain why she isn't allowed to walk inside the ropes? And why TW has 6 policemen during a round and she has 0? I noticed she was doing her best to blend in - no earrnings, no wedding ring, etc.

I was at the 2001 Masters on Sunday and noticed a pregnant Amy Mickelson was dealt the same common-man status. She couldn't even see her hubby at Amen Corner because of the fans. No security either. In this day and age, if I were Tiger or Phil, I'd get them inside the ropes access or hire security.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Wie not playing the Amateur. It's not just about winning, but about playing as a favorite/frontrunner. It's a different kind of pressure than she's experiencing now, which is a "nothing to lose" attitude. It's no coincidence that Wie has falter this year when she was in the hunt for the US Open & when she was on the verge of making the cut of the men's tournament. By not playing the amateur tournaments, she doesn't learn how to deal with expectations for her to succeed.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole "learning how to win" is complete and utter bullshit. You learn how to win by playing against the best. If Michelle Wie was finishing 40th all the time, I can understand that argument. But she is a 16 year old kid who is finishing in the top 5 of the LPGA majors. She clearly belongs there. So why not play at the highest level? If you can finish in the top 5 of the LPGA majors, why waste time playing at the amateur levels?  


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