Wie Not Afraid of Failure Not Worried About Critics
It was a family vacation to Beijing, although she doesn't remember the year.
``I think I was 10 or 11,'' Wie said. ``It was right after I failed to qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur.''
Excitement soon turned to fatigue, and when she stopped to rest, the girl who gets nervous in a three-story hotel made the mistake of looking down.
``You know how it has those towers?'' Wie said. ``Well, we reached the first tower, and I got tired and sat down. I turned around and it's like super high. I am so scared of heights, and I couldn't breathe.''
That's as far as she went. Ultimately, the short climb proved to be a longterm lesson, for it was one of the few times the 15-year-old golfer from Hawaii ever gave up.
``If I get afraid of failure,'' she says now, ``then I can't go any higher.''
It's hard to gauge how many towers Wie has reached in golf, although she is still climbing -- and she won't look back.
One was the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links that Wie won at age 13. Another was the 68 she shot at the Sony Open last year at 14, the lowest score ever by a female competing on the PGA Tour. She finished fourth at an LPGA major ('04 Kraft Nabisco) and tied for second on the LPGA Tour in January.
Then again, maybe that Public Links title is the only tower.
Some see her high finishes against women twice her age as achievement; others believe there is no greater experience than a room full of trophies. The only certainty is that her career path is unlike any other, which is why it gets so much scrutiny.
Wie just finished her sophomore year at Punahou School. Her summer plans include a long list of tournaments, but only two against amateurs, and only one of those against the men at the U.S. Amateur Public Links.
First up is the LPGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Bulle Rock north of Baltimore. It will be her first serious competition since she failed to get through men's U.S. Open local qualifying a month ago.
Critics say she needs to learn how to win by playing kids her own age, preferably the same gender.
Look what it did for 18-year-old Paula Creamer, they say. She spent her youth at a Florida golf academy, played sparingly against the pros while winning regularly on the junior circuit, then captured her first LPGA Tour event just five days before her high school graduation.
Then again, Michelle Wie is not Paula Creamer.
She's not Tiger Woods, either.
In many ways, her peculiar path was dictated by circumstances, some of which involve living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far removed from junior tours and strong competition.
By the time she was old enough to play in the American Junior Golf Association, she had already qualified for two LPGA Tour events at age 12, a feat so impressive that another LPGA event gave her an exemption.
``Traveling to an AJGA event costs the same as traveling to a LPGA event,'' Wie wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press the week of the Masters. ``If Bentley and Toyota cost the same, wouldn't you get the Bentley? I got the Bentley, and I do not regret my decision.''
Her only hope is that others will stop the back-seat driving.
``There's a lot of different ways to do stuff,'' Wie said in a telephone interview over the weekend as she took a break from practicing at Bulle Rock. ``The road can go left or it can go right. How do ever know which way to go? It obviously worked for her (Creamer). I couldn't play AJGA events because I was too young, so I did an LPGA qualifier. And once I started, I couldn't let go.''
As an 11-year-old child in the sixth grade, Wie played in Hawaii's premier event for female amateurs and won the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational by nine shots. A year later, she qualified to compete against Annika Sorenstam and Grace Park in the Takefugi Classic, missing the cut by three shots.
Bentley or Toyota?
Wie gets a rare shot to play all four LPGA majors this year.
There's also another stop on the PGA Tour at the John Deere Classic the first week in July, which is sure to do two things -- outrage someone for taking a spot in the field, and sell tickets.
Wie's idea is to gain experience for whenever she decides to turn pro.
``A lot of people have different opinions since I'm not going the traditional way,'' Wie said. ``But that's the way I've chosen to go. And I can't go back. It's not like I can wake up tomorrow morning and be 8 years old again.''
She also is perplexed to hear talk that her parents are the ones driving the car.
``It makes no sense to me, like I'm a slave and being forced to play,'' Wie said, her voice dripping with 10th-grade sarcasm. ``If my parents were forcing me to play golf, I'd be a pro at 10.''
A prodigious driver of the golf ball, Wie recently got her driver's permit and now is taking on the crowded H-1 freeway through Honolulu. She turns 16 in October, and like any teen, she can't wait to have her own car.
Bentley or Toyota?
``You're always hoping for the Bentley,'' she said with a laugh. ``But I just want a car.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.