Solheim is the time for Michelle Wie to shine

By Jay CoffinAugust 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' This is the week. This is Michelle Wies week.
 
There has never been a better opportunity for the tall teenager to shine both personally and professionally.
 
Sure, there are 23 other women here at the Solheim Cup but, like it or not, Wie is the one who moves the needle the most. Shes the one people want to see, the one recognized the most and the one that people want to see succeed.
Michelle Wie Christina Kim Solheim Cup
Michelle Wie and Christina Kim chat during a Thursday practice round at the Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms. (Getty Images)
With the focus always on her, its finally time to blossom.
 
The perceptions of Wie ' which are similar to reality ' have been widely discussed over the past six years. Shes always been under the watchful eyes of parents B.J. and Bo. And with seemingly everything handed to her on a silver platter, it has been no secret that her fans and competitors were highly critical of the phenom.
 
Now its different. With all the past drama of the DQs, WDs and DNFs behind her, it's this Cup atmosphere where Wie can finally show the world what kind of a game shes got. For the first time in her young life, shes just one of the girls. Shes happy, playful and looks comfortable in her own skin.
 
Proof came Thursday afternoon on the 18th green of a practice round when Wie demanded a group hug with playing partners Brittany Lang, Christina Kim and assistant captain Kelly Robbins. As if thats not enough, Team USA calls her Shelly.
 
I think that we've all gotten to know her in a different setting, in a different way, said Morgan Pressel, once known for not being a Wie fan, but now considers Wie a good friend. She's made a lot of new friends this week and I think it'll be a really good experience for her. I think it already has been.
 
Wie, 19, has endeared herself to her teammates so much that they all speak highly of her. In fact, it borders on gushing. They talk at length of her fashion sense, about her quick wit and personality and that she can take a joke as easily as she can dish one out.
 
Im kind of like a hermit. I play golf and go back to my room, Wie said of a usual week on the LPGA. Here I get to spend a lot of time with the girls. Theyve got to know the real me, hopefully they like it.
 
Wie also has been smart by taking advantage of the moment. Wie noted that since Cristie Kerr is such a good putter ' something Wie has struggled with ' that she used time during a practice round to seek advice from Kerr on putting and reading greens. Shes done the same with Pressel and Angela Stanford on various other issues.
 
Its been a great learning experience, Wie said. Ive tried to pick everyones brain about things I always wanted to ask. On different weeks they probably wouldnt tell you but this week they would.
 
The personal growth of Wie is something that many here at Rich Harvest Farms are hoping will lead to good solid play that will help propel the red, white and blue to victory.
 
Its great that shes finding her way at such a young age on the LPGA, but if she faces a 5-footer to win a match sometime over the next couple days, shell still need to find a way to get it in the hole.
 
The short stick always has been her Kryptonite. If she could convert putts from short range, shed have won a major already. Perhaps two.
 
Bottom line: This is an important week, developmentally, because it could lead to bigger things for Wie. The combination of meaningful camaraderie and success could spark something big. Like, perhaps, a floodgate of victories?
 
People are going to get to see the real her this week, said Kerr.
 
If ever they are, this is the week.
 
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Meet the European Solheim Cup team
  • Meet the U.S. Solheim Cup team
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