She is the 16-year-old kid who is to golf what Madonna is to singing. Michelle Wie is a polarizing figure in her sport. Some are full of admiration at her ability to play the game at such a high level while still in a youthful body. Others are full of irritation at what they consider a gimmick, a media creation that is intent upon wrecking the whole mens game.
Of course, there are some who are dubious. Michelle Wie? Whats all the fuss? Shes going to have to make a cut eventually, said Mark Calcavecchia. Shes never going to win ' period Maybe once she makes a cut, shell forget it.
If she makes a cut, Calc continued, you know, finishing 60th or something, next tournament she plays in, it's like, All right, she made a cut. Now what is she trying to do?
Is she trying to win, seriously? What is she trying to do? I think all that 'women playing the men's tournament' crap, either everybody is tired of it or...
A 16-year-old, though, just doesnt play golf like this, others say. And thats either a 16-year-old boy or a 16-year-old girl.
I can't ever think of a 16-year-old girl that could hit it like that, said Jim Furyk. I'll go beyond that - I don't know too many 16-year-old boys that can go out there and play in a tour event, have that much composure, hit the ball that well. She's definitely one in a million or one in a billion, as far as a player.
Sean OHair and Justin Rose toured the Sony Open course with Wie Tuesday. You have to remember, she's 16 years old, she's playing against men twice her age, said OHair. That's not easy.
The average age out here - if you're young, you're in your late 20s out here. Let's face it - I'm shocked that she's 16 years old. I think we have to all remember that. She may not peak in her game until she is in her mid-20s, maybe even later than that. From what she's already proved, missed the cut a couple times by a shot at 15 years old - that's pretty impressive.
How rare is it? Stuart Appleby said Wie is in the one millionth of one percent for girls her age. She will be part of history. She just hasn't been part of history at all yet. And that's what is scary, is someone that good hasn't played any role in golf at all. Now in the next 15, 20 years, she could be the biggest and best player ever.
Jim Furyk has no problem with her playing the Sony, as long as she is a professional. There was some justification inviting her the last two years when she was an amateur, he says. But now that she is a pro, he believes she has every right to be here.
For some reason, says Furyk, I put a difference in amateur and pro. I like to see sponsor exemptions go to golf professionals. Not that I don't think there's deserving amateurs, and not that I don't think she deserved it, because she did. I have no problem with her being in the event in the past. I like giving exemptions to people who are trying to make a living, if that makes sense.
That being said, I like the fact that she's a professional now getting an exemption. She's out there trying to have a career and make money. It's her profession. I like seeing golf professionals get exemptions. ... I would not be surprised at all if she made the cut next week.
And the gents are beyond the stage of being embarrassed if Michelle beats them by a stroke or two; although their friends still let them know it if they let a girl beat them.
You're past it till you get home, said David Toms. You go to dinner with your buddies, they're all over you about it.
But as far as just a pure playing standpoint, sure. If you were trying to close a business deal and a woman got it and you didn't, is that a big - would they make fun of you? I think we're all past that. I mean, I think it's great that they're even able to compete with us. She actually can.
Toms wonders deep down what Wie has to gain by playing in womens events. She probably should be playing regularly on the LPGA, he readily concedes. But does she have something more awaiting her on the mens tour?
I think when she's full-time on the LPGA Tour, winning their golf tournaments - why even? he says. I think now it (playing the PGA Tour) kind of brings attention to HER game. Would she be making the money off the golf course if all she did was play ladies events? I mean, would it be the same?
To me, it's more of a story - and she's more of a story - when she's trying to play our events, make cuts in our events. I think she's a bigger story trying to make the cut in the Sony Open than she is trying to win just a mediocre ladies event. I think that's probably why she's making the money off the golf course that she is, is because of that. She's able to compete with us. I think so, anyway.
Indeed, says OHair, this 16-year-old can make the cut at Sony this week. If she doesn't, she will eventually. It's not a matter of if, just a matter of when.
That's my opinion. If it's this week, who knows? I think she's playing well enough to do it. She could possibly do better than just making the cut.
It still boggles the imagination, Wie possibly playing the weekend at a mens event. It boggles the imagination that ANY 16-year-old could do it. But a lot of tour pros say it is quite possible. Its going to be a most interesting week.
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