Au Contraire - Wie Says She Is Quite Happy

By George WhiteOctober 14, 2004, 4:00 pm
For the first time in her 15 years on this earth, Michelle Wie was clearly agitated by a reporters question. She was responding to an innocent query, one that sums up all the negativity about her golfing career in one sentence. It is paraphrased like this:
 
Arent you cheating yourself out of one of childhoods most enjoyable experiences by repeatedly coming out to professional golf tournaments and competing against the pros?
 
It made her angry. For once, she was not the shy little teen-ager, yes maaming and no maaming and giggling over yet another silly question about her junior high curriculum. This one hit a raw nerve, one that has been hammered on repeatedly this year. She dove into it with a vengeance.
 
I mean, Im not stupid enough that I would not enjoy myself coming out here, she said. Im not really that stupid. If Im not enjoying myself, I wouldnt be coming out here and I wouldnt be playing.
 
Im having a great time. Im having really fun. I have friends out here and I really enjoy coming out here, and its kind of fun missing school. Im having a lot of fun traveling with my family. I also think its good Im not out here full time because I kind of get sick of one thing. Its nice to get home and get my mind off golf and then come here focused.
 
She is in the Palm Springs area this week preparing to play in the Samsung World Championship. Michelle has absolutely polarized the golf world with the tidal wave of publicity that surrounds her. Half appreciate what she is doing with her golf, love the girlish manner in which she speaks, think she is an absolutely adorable kid. The other half are sick of reading about her ' period. Nothing against her personally, but they feel any mention of a word that begins with a W and ends in IE is one word too many.
 
But Michelle is getting accustomed now to being at the center of controversy. Her father, some say, is a publicity-hungry pusher. She should go back and just enjoy the ninth grade, others say, and show up again in eight years or so. And all of the naysayers are saying she hasnt taken the initial step yet ' which is learning how to win. Learn to win against your own age-group and then you can learn to win against much stronger competition.
 
Well, you know I get that, said Wie. And then she launched into a mini-biography.
 
I played junior golf, she said. I didnt just start golf and then play in the LPGA.
 
Ive been playing junior golf tournament since I was nine until like 12 years old, for three years. Nobody knows about that because there are no cameras at junior golf tournaments. I did work my way up. I played in the 9-10 year old level and I did win those before I went to the other group.
 
Then after a while you win every tournament in a row. You no longer feel the desire to go anymore. With my kind of (temperament), you cant stay in one place too long. I just want to try something new. I had the Monday qualifying and I did what Tiger told me to do. Start small and go up. I did play junior golf and I did win tournaments.
 
Maybe we are being too hard on a kid who is still in school in Honolulu, who is as normal as one can be when shes not playing golf. Maybe we are being too harsh on her parents, who have squired her to numerous professional events around the globe the past two years. She still seems like a kid to me, one that may be six feet tall and can loop a golf ball 300 yards ' but still just a child.
 
She is an honor student whos studying Japanese, conceptual physics, trigonometry, English, Asian history and foundation art. She is a kid who loves to hang out at the mall with her schoolgirl friends, who does her best to get away from the game when it is time to do other things.
 
Golf is time consuming, she said, but I dont play golf for 24 hours. Outside of golf it doesnt take much for me think about something else. Well, if I had time and money I would go to a mall. I dont really like window shopping. I like to buy things. My friends and I go to the mall and hang out and go to movies and stuff.
 
Davis Love can appreciate what she is going through. He can relate to it because he has a daughter who was 15 a year ago.
 
She wants to be older than she is, he said, speaking of his daughter but describing every other 15-year-old in the universe.
 
At almost 40 years old, you sit back and think, When I was 15, I wanted to be 25. When I was 25. I wanted to be 14.
 
Its hard to get that perspective when youre 15 years old. You always want to be older than you are and do things older people do. But when you are older, you always say, Why was I in such a hurry to do things that were beyond me?
 
It remains to be seen whether Michelle Wie is trying to do things that are truly beyond her. But thus far she has taken it all in stride and not blinked, even once. People are still waiting for her to crack under the pressure. But she is still competing, still smiling, still full of wonder.
 
Those who dislike the attention given her are going to have to endure for a long time to follow. And those who adore her can rejoice for the same reason. We have only seen the beginning.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”