Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Year Winds Down #1: Michelle Wie

As the year winds down—and it can’t end soon enough for me!—over the next few weeks now and then I’m going to be picking and choosing some loose ends here at the blog to tie up. Some will be personal, some will be theme-related and some just will be odd.

I’m going to start with one of the odd loose ends I want to tie up.

A few months back I poked some fun at Michelle Wie. [Michelle Wie And Bigfoot ] I’m still no fan of this strange young woman, but I want to be fair in the blog’s coverage of her.

Back in August, Wie had failed to earn enough money during tournament play to be considered a professional golfer by the standards of the LPGA tour. In order for her to play on the LPGA tour next year she would have to attend a playoff tournament called Q-school. Some sports writers speculated that she would consider herself too important to play a qualifier tournament. Others suspected she simply wouldn’t have the commitment to the game to play the qualifier. Others suspected she was simply washed-up and would retire at 19.

But Michelle Wie did play Q-school. She played erratically at the qualifying tournament, but finished tied at 7th. Since the top twenty performers at Q-school get their LPGA card, Michelle Wie got her card and is now a professional golfer. [Wie clinches 2009 LPGA Tour place]

Sorry I doubted you, Michelle!

Now the speculation is about how regularly she’ll play, how well she’ll perform and how big of a draw she will become among fans.

It will be an interesting season for the LPGA.

Nobody but Wie knows how regularly she’ll play.

She’ll be competing against players like Paula Creamer. Creamer’s performance at the ADT Championship was one of the coolest sports stories of the years. [Crippled Creamer misses title despite dramatic hospital dash] Will Michelle Wie have what it takes to compete—again and again—with that kind of passion and skill?

About the only thing that is probably cut-and-dried is the fan support Wie will receive. Golf fans are—possibly—the strangest sport fans in the world. They have great appreciation for skill, for the quiet passion that goes into winning at an individual game like golf. At the same time, however, golf fans love a freak show. I mean, golf fans LOVE a freak show. The continued popularity of John Daly is an underscore of this weird fact. [Appreciative gallery loves rogue Daly]

So, Michelle Wie can expect great support from the fans.

And the press coverage of Wie should be interesting. One reporter has already pointed out that Wie is 19 years old, so she no longer has youth on her side. [!]

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