Michelles Plate is Too Full

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2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- For the longest time it was the feel good story in all of golf. Then the feeling, for a whole shag bag full of reasons, wasnt so good. Now the Michelle Wie fairy tale is poised on the precipice of morphing into a cautionary tale.
 
On Thursday the 17-year-old Wie will play in her fifth (yes, her FIFTH) U.S. Womens Open. Last year she finished tied for third; the year before that she tied for 23rd and the year before that she wound up tied for 13th.
 
But she has shown up at Pine Needles this week with a wrist that isnt full strength; a recent golf resume that is weaker yet and enough bad press to make a typesetter blush.
 
At the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika in late May she withdrew after 16 holes on the verge of shooting an 88, a number that would have precluded her playing in LPGA events the rest of the year. She cited the wrist but was seen practicing at the site of the next event, the McDonalds LPGA Championship, just days later.
 
At McDonalds she made the cut but finished dead last, by 10 shots, among the players who advanced to the weekend. Meanwhile, Annika Sorenstam criticized her for not apologizing for the controversial circumstances that surrounded her decision to stop playing at the Ginn tournament. Sorenstam said Wie should have shown more respect.
 
The overwhelming consensus was that Sorenstam was well within her rights to take Wie to task. Asked about Sorenstams comments, Wie refused to apologize.
 
A growing army of critics, who have clobbered Wie on everything from playing in too many mens events to being spacy in interviews, howled like banshees.
 
Fast forward to Tuesday at Pine Needles where Wie isnt even the teenager considered most likely to win anymore. That player is 19-year-old Morgan Pressel, who already has a major championship victory (Kraft Nabisco) on her record this year.
 
Nor is Wie the young media darling. That honor goes to Alexis Thompson who, at 12 years old, will be the youngest player ever in a U.S. Womens Open.
 
Sorenstam, when asked Tuesday, said she wasnt looking, or expecting, an apology from Wie at this late date. She said she would welcome talking about the situation (that still festers) if Wie wants to do so.
 
I said what I wanted to say and I stand for what I said, Sorenstam said. And I still feel that way.
 
Will she approach Wie on the matter any time soon?
 
I dont have a need to seek her out, said Sorenstam, who won her second Womens Open here in 1996. Im here to play this week.
 
Which brings us to Wies long and rambling Tuesday press conference, that took place two and a half hours ahead of Sorenstams. For starters, Wie didnt apologize for anything. But she did appear to take some blame.
 
I think my parents and managers; they help me to make my decisions, Wie said. They all have their advice, and they all advise me. But in the end its me that makes the decision because everyone realizes that its my life and Im the only person that is capable of making decisions. Im the only person that knows how my wrist is feeling every day.
 
As for the expectations that have been heaped on her from every direction: Im just so grateful that everyone has expectations of me, she said. It makes me work even harder.
 
Then Wie talked about being a teenage girl. I like to call back home and talk to my girl friends and my guy friends and just listen to their troubles for once and just talk about silly stuff, be stupid and just be goofy and just not to think about anything; just not to have a care in the world, she said. And to just lie in my bed and just lay sprawled out and just do nothing is what I like to do; just be lazy and just talk on the phone for hours.
 
Wie said she still plans on enrolling at Stanford University in the fall as a freshman. And, she said, she hasnt given up on playing more mens events in the future.
 
The more you listen to Michelle Wie the more you begin to get the idea that maybe a lot of these problems really are her fault. Her parents and handlers have taken most of the heat. But, as the late Earl Woods once told me, once Tiger got to a certain point in his life, if he didnt want to do something, nobody was going to make him do it.
 
The huge difference here is that Tiger never put too many things on his plate. He realized at an early age that things like being lazy and just talking on the phone for hours werent the best complement to his golf. He also attended Stanford but left after two years to play professional golf full time. Soon he was the best player in the world.
 
Maybe this part of the problem is Wies fault and nobody elses. Maybe she wants to do too many things. No law against wanting to grow up at the same pace as your friends. But maybe that isnt realistic when you also want to be the best player in womens golf and compete against men. And play in the Masters. And go to college. And ... well, the list goes on and on.
 
Maybe Michelle Wie has too much on her plate.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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