TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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September 23, 2007

Wie bashing withdrawl symptoms...

A friend of mine recently asked, why havenít you been bashing Michelle Wie lately?

Well, first of all, this is the same friend who e-mailed me once screaming "enough of Michelle Wie already! We know your opinion of her, move on to something else!" So his recent question caught me off guard. However, it also sparked my curiosity because things have been suspiciously quiet from the World of Wie lately, but fortunately, thereís always something to bash if you look hard enough...

Such as Wieís sponsor invitation to The Samsung World Championship on 10-14 October which is supposed to be a short-field "reward" tournament on the LPGA Tour. Only an exclusive field of the world's top 20 players are supposed to attend.

If thatís the case, why did Michelle Wie get invited and Annika Sorenstam didnít?

Yes, you read that right Ė the six-time champion of this event and arguably the most dominant female golfer on the planet didnít get in, but Michelle Wie, who hasnít won anything, barely breaks 80 and is supposedly still suffering from a sore wrist, got in on a sponsorís exemption which was issued on May 15th...

According to the selection criteria, the 2006 LPGA Money and Scoring leaders get invited and both titles are held by Lorena Ochoa. The winners of the 2007 LPGA majors; Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr (Ochoa won the fourth) are in, as well as the top Ladies European Tour player who would most likely be Gwladys Nocera.

The rest of the field consists of the highest-ranking golfers on the 2007 LPGA money list who were not part of the above list, so the Top 18 on the money list will most likely complete the 20-person field.

Sorenstam is presently US$225,000 behind the 18th player on the money list and could conceivably earn a slot by winning either of the two remaining events before the Samsung, i.e., the Navistar LPGA Classic or the Longs Drug Championship but she would also have to finish higher than third in the other as well.

Not good odds for for a superstar with a bad back.

While Sorenstam undoubtedly deserves to participate, simply because sheís Sorenstam, there is no doubt that Wie remains to be a huge draw card for any event. Sure, she doesnít win, but the vast majority of the fans donít go to these events to see her win, theyíre more interested in seeing an attractive six-foot tall Asian girl hit the ball 300 yards and the fact that it barely goes straight isnít really an over-riding concern.

These are the same kind of people who go to NASCAR races to watch the wrecks.

Serious fans would vote for Sorenstam attending over Wie because they want to see a true champion up close and hopefully learn something from watching her, but the fact of the matter is that Michelle Wieís appeal is more like John Dalyís than that of Tiger Woods.

Oh sure, Team Wie would like everyone to think sheís another Tiger in the making, but facing facts, she still remains more of a sideshow than a main event.

So what can be done to keep the universe in balance?

Samsung could either try and pressure Wie to withdraw or promise something her a future slot in lieu of a tactical retreat now, but retracting an invitation would result in a loss of face, not to mention a few probably lawsuits from Team Wie as they are probably stir-crazy from not having sacked someone in quite a while.

We could hope that she comes to her senses and decides to "give her wrist a break for a while, prepare for next year and dive into her school work, but we also know that he ego would never allow that to happen.

Yet, that might be the best option as giving her exemption to Sorenstam could help mend the broken fences, both with Annika and the LPGA, who arenít all too pleased with her at the moment either.

The last option would be for Samsung to take a page out of the Vietnam golf tournament handbook and simply create another slot for Sorenstam.

Letís hope cooler heads prevail as Iíd hate to see that become a normal occurrence.


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