The sports media has made a habit in the past decade of searching high and low, looking for the latest teen prodigy in sports. Many times the extreme media attention, magazine covers, ad endorsements, and scrutiny have acted like a blast forge and have turned some of these youngsters into supreme talents and media forces. LeBron and Tiger come to mind here, as they were able to use their early publicity to springboard into being the two biggest names in sports today. Sometimes however, the visit into the blast forge has a different effect.
Sometimes it melts a child.
Witness the absolutely shameful performance Michelle Wie turned in today. There is no other way to describe it. Wie, coming off of a wrist injury, pulled out of the Ginn Tribute after shooting 14 over through the first 16 holes. The explanation from Wie's camp as to why she pulled out? "I had issues with my wrist". She "tweaked" it. Not buying it. And newsflash Michelle, nobody is buying it. The real story behind Wie's pullout was likely an odd LPGA rule that says if a non tour player shoots an 88 or above in any round, they are not allowed to come back for the rest of the year. Wie was two bogeys away from hitting that mark. Now, Wie and her camp denied that this was the case. Wie said, "Shooting 88 is not what I think about." Just a coincidence. Well, don't take my word for it. Consider the facts as presented by Eric Adelson on ESPN.com:
"Missing the cut became the least of Wie's troubles. The somewhat obscure Rule of 88 states that a nonmember who shoots 88 is forced to withdraw and subsequently banned from LPGA co-sponsored events for the remainder of the calendar season. Wie said later that she never considered the possibility, but soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear. Chris Higgs, the LPGA chief operations officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie's rope line for "no particular reason."
Wie's score climbed to 14-over, and then, after Wie finished up on the seventh hole, Nared spoke to her briefly before she announced, "We're not going to play anymore."
Wie had a 43 on the front and was at 7-over 35 on the back -- two bogeys shy of 88. She shook hands with her competitors, glumly climbed into a cart, and rode to the clubhouse, where she met behind closed doors with her parents and Nared. The four spoke for 15 minutes, then an ice pack was brought in for Wie's left wrist. Wie then walked to the media tent without the ice pack."
So to recap:
- The LPGA COO was talking to the media about the 88 rule.
- He then drove over to Wie's manager and had a conversation.
- Wie's manager soon afterward talked to Wie.
- Wie withdrew.
- She then talked to her parents for 15 minutes.
- THEN Wie is brought an ice pack for her injured wrist.
And to make matters even worse, Wie's playing partner Alena Sharp had this to say about Wie:
"She wasn't holding her wrist," Sharp said. "I think she just had a bad day. If it was her wrist, why wait until the last two holes [to withdraw]?"
America is not stupid Ms. Wie.
And neither is the LPGA: they knew that they were two holes away from losing their biggest TV draw for the entire year, and it would appear that they stepped in to stop it from happening.
The stupid people here?
Those would be the people handling Michelle Wie's career, if you could call it that at this point. At this point, Wie is nothing but a carnival sideshow. She is no longer the little girl with big drives that caught the media's eye. She is almost 18, and she has yet to win an LPGA event. Now, this might sound like an unfair criticism for someone so young. But to compare, 18 year old Morgan Pressel won an LPGA major as recently as April. The stark truth is this: Wie has been passed by. She is no longer the best young female golfer in the world, even though the general sports public would probably never be able to tell since Wie is constantly on television, doing photoshoots, and walking the red carpet at gala events. She has squandered valuable time and focus by vainly attempting to make the cut at a men's event. Kind of a silly pursuit when you can't even beat the women right? Nevertheless, Wie has kept trying to make history without paying her dues in the LPGA, like a high schooler thinking they can be a lawyer without going to college first.
Not going to happen Michelle.
Now, don't get me wrong: Wie does have sublime talent. She is arguably the longest hitting player in women's golf, and her control on the course is well beyond her years.
Which is precisely why it is such a shame to see her squandering her talent, wasting her time trying to play with men, and sullying her reputation by trying to act as if her wrist injury was the cause of her withdrawal this week. Be a real woman Michelle: Man Up.