Fixing The Wie Problem

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Exactly when, where, why or how is hard to pinpoint. But now that Michelle Wie has played in six LPGA events this year without finishing better than 60th, its clear her train is officially off the tracks.
 
This became apparent to everybody last week at the CN Canadian Womens Open in Alberta where Wie missed the cut by four shots.
 
Her failure there barely caused a ripple. And that was the problem. The buzz is gone.
 
The next LPGA round she plays in less than 70 strokes will be her first in 2007. Of course there have been injuries. But there have also been contradictory explanations; lots of no comments from her spin doctors; and one very suspicious WD at the Ginn Tribute.
 
Where once there was a made-for-TV phenom, now there is just a mute button stuck in the silent mode.
 
Wie is still just a teenager. But her image desperately needs damage control. She is about to enroll at Stanford University for her freshman year yet already she must discover a second act to a nascent professional career that is badly stalled.
 
Rather than focus on the negative, Jim Fannin has a few positive professional thoughts on how to fix the problems.
 
Fannin is a self-described Change Your Life coach. And before you roll your eyes at that nomenclature, consider the fact that Fannin has worked extensively, one-on-one, with the mind of David Leadbetter, the man who works exclusively with the swing of Michelle Wie.
 
I have never met Michelle Wie in person, says Fannin, who also has worked with Yankee uberstar Alex Rodriguez and golfers Charles Howell, Luke Donald, Joe Durant and Julieta Granada, just to name a few. But Fannin has watched Wie with interest.
 
Michelle Wie needs to bury the past, Fannin says. She has to introduce herself to herself. And she needs, going forward, to deal with strength.
 
For the next 30 to 60 days she should focus on the positives of her golf game. Most people focus on the negatives. Self-esteem is what you think other people think of you. If you are concerned about that, you are in trouble.
 
Once upon a cautionary tale, Fannin worked with Ty Tryon, who got his PGA TOUR card at the tender age of 17 and quickly flamed out. What Fannin found in Tryons camp was a coterie of advisors who were concerned about all the wrong things. There were special sessions on signing autographs. And debates about whether he should use his full signature or just use a double T.
 
I was appalled, Fannin said.
 
Wie has a father who once courted the media and now shuns reporters. She has an agent on the west coast and a PR firm on the east coast. The signals from her camp are, at times, impossibly mixed.
 
I would look at my routines if I were Michelle, Fannin says. You will probably find that she doesnt have consistent mental routines. Im talking about sleep routines, eating routines and routines on the range. You need routines that fit you and are designed to get you into the zone state.
 
Fannin has made CDs titled: Life in the Zone, Business in the Zone, Tennis in the Zone, Sports in the Zone, Golf in the Zone, and Baseball in the Zone. He knows the territory.
 
Meanwhile this week, Wies state will be Oregon.
 
She is competing in the Safeway Classic Presented by Pepsi. The Portland venue is not all that far from the headquarters of Nike, a sponsor that has, admirably, stood by its investment in Wie through thick and thin. Lately it has been mostly thin. Friday Wie opened with a 7-over 79.
 
Michelle needs to be aware of what she thinks about, Fanning says. You need to know what keeps you engaged. The champion thinks less. Not more.
 
Clearly, Wie is heading in the other direction. After missing the cut last week she was asked how she plans to balance college with professional golf. I havent really figured that out yet, she said.
 
One national magazine advanced the theory that Wies poor play has been a way of rebelling against the childhood her golfing precocity has cost her. One national radio station floated the notion that Wie is exploring ways to retain her amateur status so she can play on the womens team at Stanford.
 
At some point Michelle has to be her own thinker, Fannin says. Golf is a game of decisions. When you believe youre a world class decision maker, youve arrived as a world class player. I still feel real positive about this girl.
 
Going deeper, Fannin talks about trusting intuition. Intuition is real-time information that your conscious mind does not possess, he says. Right now, shes probably not listening to her intuition.
 
Wies parents have come under increasing fire for mismanaging their daughters career to date. My advice to all parents is let your child be a decision-maker, Fannin says. From where Fannin sits, he doesnt think Wie has had the opportunity to make her own decisions.
 
Tiger Woods, we all know, is first rate decision-maker. Hes at the top of all athletes in the world in that department, Fannin says. Tiger listens to his intuition. Thats Michelles next great challenge.
 
She has a dominant advisory staff. And theyre very good. But usually when you have too many thoughts, you do nothing.
 

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