TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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August 27, 2006

A Wie Dissapointment…

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, its impossible to miss the amount of Wie bashing going on in Internet sites. Apparently, the last episode where teen sensation Michelle Wie sacked her caddie after getting slapped with a two-stroke penalty for violating 13-4c at the British Women’s Open, was a bit too much to take.

While a lot of people urged her to turn pro and make a quick bundle on her fame, I was one of the nay-sayers and, sadly, this prediction seems on the money.

I personally believe that Michelle Wie has a brilliant future ahead of her in golf, but she needs to build experience so that she can perform better both on and off the course.. In a nutshell, she needs to grow up.

Its difficult even for hardened professionals to keep it together on Sunday afternoons when in the hunt for a title, so imagine the pressure on a little girl trying to do the same with the world following her every stroke. Ok, granted, a six-footer who drives the ball over 300 yards isn’t "little" in the physical sense, but it is in relation to emotional maturity and experience and when you consider she’s playing with seasoned pros who have ice water in their veins, you know she’s way out of her depth.

You could have a heart attack on the green and Annika Sorestam wouldn’t even notice unless she tripped over you. Ben Hogan once birdied a hole that used to drive him crazy and never noticed that his opponent aced it. They’re focused on the job at hand and this focus comes from being in the heat of battle time and time again.

While she comes close in many events, she cannot close the deal. Not yet. She needs to become tournament hardened, something which would’ve happened during her amateur career in college if her advisors didn’t throw her to the wolves. If you remember, Tiger won everything that came his way before turning pro – AND he finished college first.

One of the responsibilities of a good caddie is to keep the player from making stupid errors and for accepting the blame when anything goes wrong. Caddies really cannot win for trying, yet this is part of the job and they accept it as such. Tour players have very fragile egos, so the caddie gets blamed for everything.

In this case, it’s the people who wanted to cash-in on Wie’s fame and potential who are really to blame, not the caddie. Fear that her worth in the marketplace would plummet if they waited and she didn’t live up to the hype as an amateur caused them to urge her to become a professional. Better grab the bucks offered now because who knew what the future held.

While it was a good "business’ decision and transformed her into an overnight multi-millionaire, it was a huge mistake in relation to her development as a player.

Instead of being allowed to develop normally and at her own pace while still enjoying the remnants of youth, she has been tossed into the pressure cooker of an adult Tour and given a choice - either produce or produce.

To make matters worse, her marketing gurus keep putting her head to head with the male players. Look, if the best women player in the world such as Annika Sorenstam cannot do it, what makes anyone think Wie can?

I watched a few holes of the Evian Masters last week and one thing that was glaringly apparent is that Wie is S-L-O-W, especially on the greens. She’s overanalyses her putts and talks herself into a miss. This is inexperience exemplified.

Other players on both the men’s and ladies Tours have made negative comments on her speed of play as well. Look, as an amateur you can get away with being a "little" slow as everyone is nervous out there, but when you’re swimming with sharks, you’d better have it together out there because they’re all business.

Well, the deed is done and nothing can be done about it now. Wie, her family, her supporters, her sponsors and her detractors can only wait to see if she matures as a player.

If not, no big deal, she’s got millions in the bank, certainly enough to attend college and find another career…


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