Thursday, February 19, 2009

Michelle Wie's game lacks experience

It’s now official. Michelle Wie is officially a card-carrying tournament tested member of the LPGA Tour. No longer is she an interloper. In one week she showed what many had thought about her.

She’s got some game and she has no experience. Perhaps the early stages of her career would have been better spent learning how to play tournament golf as opposed to learning how to swing a club. She needed to learn how to hit shots under the gun, but her parents were more concerned about her media image. This is not to say that her image isn’t important, but she’s only 18 and not old enough to have her image take a hit. Besides, no one is going attack an 18-year-old.

In retrospect, her time would have been better spent competing as an amateur. True it wouldn’t have been as profitable, but golf-wise Wie would have been much better off. Rather than honing her competitive skills with a full summer of tournaments, she had about seven opportunities a year. Predictably, when an opportunity arose, she didn’t play well.

This past Friday, Wie entered unchartered waters as she took a three-stroke lead into Saturday’s final round of the SBC tournament. The Golf Channel broadcasting team decided to take the high road during the final round and portrayed the action as an Angela Stanford charge. The fact was, Wie was learning how hard it is to swing a golf club with both hands wrapped around your throat. Unfortunately, the degree of difficulty was enhanced, by brain cramp after brain cramp.

When she needed to make a shot and take control of the situation, she was flustered. She hit a 3-wood off the tee on a par 5 she could have easily reached in two had she hit driver. She didn’t take advantage of a drop situation where she could have saved a shot. Instead she took an option from which she couldn’t reach the green. She blasted three drives off the charts to the right. All this happened over the final nine holes.

She just wasn’t ready. There are a lot of flaws in her game and none of them have anything to do with her swing. A lot of times a player who throws away a tournament will chalk it up as a “learning experience.” They’ll claim that it was actually a positive step forward. Don’t believe it for a moment.

In her favor, the LPGA Tour moves out of the country until the end of March. Perhaps that will give her time to regain her psyche. It had to be pretty bruised by the end of Saturday’s round.

Another thing in her favor is she’s only 18. That means after five years on the LPGA Tour she’ll still be just 23-years-old and hopefully a lot wiser. Time is definitely on her side and that’s important.

No, there was nothing positive that came from the SBC final round for Wie, unless she remembers and admits her mistakes. Until then, she’ll go on probably losing more tournaments than winning and that’s sad. She should have already been through these growing pains. Let’s just hope it won’t be too traumatic for her. The LPGA needs her now and will in the future. She has to survive in one piece to achieve her potential. It would be a disservice if six years from now, we’re asking, “what if?”

Bartender, please bring a pitcher of ice water for Ms. Wie, although I think it would be better if injected into her veins rather than served by the glass.

See you on the first tee,


1 comment:

oneunder said...

One must never ever forget the BJ factor, keep him off the course and you may just see a run away victory.