Meaning in Wies Loss

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This was going to be the ultimate stimulus package for the LPGA.
 
Michelle Wie, the monstrously gifted but star-crossed 19-year-old Hawaiian who attended the same high school as Barack Obama, had the audacity to hope that she would win her first tournament Saturday as a rookie. And she had a three-shot lead over Angela Stanford with eight holes remaining at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay to make that hope feel like a reality if not a formality.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie was 2 under on the front nine Saturday and 3 over on the back. (Getty Images)
Keep the ball in front of you. Stay in the moment. And force the competition to feel like it had to make something happen to catch up to you.
 
And win the golf tournament that would, among other things:
 
  • Put the LPGA on the front page of sports pages and Web sites all over the world in the first week of 2009 without any American football.
     
  • Give Wie her first victory of any significance since 2003 when, as a 13-year-old prodigy, she won the U.S. Womens Public Links in Florida.
     
  • Put whipped cream on top of the public relations parfait that began earlier in the week with the announcement of a 10-year LPGA deal with Golf Channel followed by a five-year LPGA agreement with Korean media powerhouse J-Golf.
     
    A Saturday victory for Michelle Wie would have been the best thing and a bonanza for a tour that has been poised for this ever since an exciting and compelling group of young players that includes Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis and Morgan Pressel arrived on the scene earlier in this decade.
     
    Instead it turned out to be the best thing for Angela Stanford, arguably the hottest player in womens golf. And all credit to her. Michelle attends Stanford. Angela IS Stanford.
     
    And Angela Stanford has now finished in the top six or better in each of her last seven events. Certainly it is not unfair to her to suggest that a Wie win at Turtle Bay would have been the perfect tonic for a tour at the outset of the post Annika Sorenstam era.
     
    As it happens, at the same time Stanford was putting Wie away, Sorenstam and her new husband Mike McGee, were arriving in Rossland, Canada as their honeymoon continues. Sorenstam, contacted by GolfChannel.com, did not see any of the final round and chose not to comment on Sundays outcome.
     
    But Wie had this to say: This was not what I wanted. I had a good week and I had a good run.
     
    Michelle Wie, Stanford said, does a lot of things right. I didnt think she was going to make a mistake. Shes going to be around for a long time.
     
    So the LPGA might not have gotten the public splash it could have expected this week if Wie hadnt squandered her lead, a margin that began to melt down with a drive into the right hazard and a double bogey on the par-4 11th. But its imperative to point out that Stanford birdied the 13th, 14th and 15th holes to build a commanding two-shot lead with three remaining. Her final margin of victory was three shots. Wie made no birdies and needed 39 shots on the inward half.
     
    Stanford won this golf tournament every bit as much as Wie lost it. But the plain fact is her win wont have the same impact in golfs marketing circles as Wies would have.
     
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