Wies Father Fires Himself

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 6, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (AP) -- Teenage sensation Michelle Wie played the final round of the U.S. Women's Open with her father watching from behind the ropes instead of at her side as her caddie.
The surprising move Sunday capped a troubled tournament for the long-driving 13-year-old.
On Saturday, B.J. Wie retracted earlier claims that pro Danielle Ammaccapane pushed his daughter on the No. 14 green, apparently angry over a breach of etiquette. But he stood by statements that Ammaccapane later berated his daughter in the scoring tent.
The off-the-course drama put added pressure on the teenager, whose emergence has been likened to the stir Tiger Woods caused before he went pro.
That's why the caddie change was made, B.J. Wie said.
''Just to give her a fresh atmosphere,'' he explained as he watched his daughter play Sunday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. ''It has been a very difficult week.''
Gary Gilchrist, the teenager's hitting coach, served as her caddie for the last round. He will also caddie for her in the U.S. Girls Junior in Fairfield, Conn., later this month.
Michelle Wie found out about the switch early Sunday.
''I just woke up and my mom told me my dad wasn't caddying for me today so I said, OK, whatever,'' she said.
She did not have much interaction with her father, but did smile his way after hitting a well-placed long drive on the No. 11 hole.
''I'm having a good time,'' B.J. Wie said as another face in his daughter's considerable gallery. He said he was unsure when, or if, he would take up her bag again.
Michelle Wie, a 6-footer from Honolulu, has grabbed attention with her 300-yard drives. Two weeks ago, she became the youngest player to win a USGA title for adults at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
On the final day of her first U.S. Women's Open, Wie had a 5-over 76 to finish at 14 over.
She was paired for the final round with Stephanie Louden, a second-year player on the LPGA Tour who B.J. Wie said was like a big sister to his daughter. They had practiced together Wednesday.
''You need some people out here to look out for you,'' Louden said. ''If I can serve that role, it's great.''
B.J. Wie first made his accusations about Ammaccapane on Friday, claiming the 16-year LPGA Tour veteran pushed, brushed or bumped his daughter on the No. 14 hole during the opening round. The teenager had apparently walked in the line of Ammaccapane's putt, but beyond the hole, something the Wies did not know was wrong.
A day later he said he misunderstood his daughter's account of the incident and that there was never any physical contact between the two.
Ammaccapane remained silent throughout the controversy, but released a statement Saturday saying she was ''upset and disappointed after being accused of something that was not true.''
''Throughout my career, I have always played the game with the utmost respect, professionalism and integrity,'' Ammaccapane said. ''I appreciate Mr. Wie's honesty today in setting the record straight.''
Ammaccapane left the course Sunday without comment, passing within feet of B.J. Wie, after a 3-over 74. She finished 11-over for the event.
B.J. Wie did not back down from statements that Ammaccapane confronted his daughter after the round in the scoring tent. And USGA executive director David Fay confirmed Ammaccapane gave the teenager a ''talking to.''
''The comments she delivered in my view were not delivered in the tone of Aunt Bea but in the tone of a drill sergeant,'' Fay said. ''Many had to do with the behavior of her father, and the things he was doing or not doing as a caddie.''
Michelle Wie would only characterize what Ammaccapane said as ''bad stuff.'' She said she felt the 37-year-old should apologize.
But asked if she would accept an apology, Wie was emphatic.
''No,'' she said.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Women's Open
  • U.S. Women's Open Leaderboard
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