What Are Wies Chances

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The total tonnage of golf knowledge circulating through the halls of The Golf Channel at any one time is staggering. If you think you know a lot about the game, hang around the water cooler. Someone will show up who knows more about some aspect of golf than you do.
 
Which is why I have been surprised this week at how many people in our hallowed halls want to know if I think Michelle Wie can win the LPGAs Samsung World Championship that begins Thursday in California.
 
This tournament, in case you have been kayaking in New Caledonia, will mark Wies professional debut. It also happens to start two days after her 16th birthday.
 
Hardened Golf Channel veterans who can recite chapter and verse about all things Tiger are unusually curious about how Wie will do.
 
I have also been hearing a lot lately from the usual E-mail cynics who have started begging me to stop paying so much attention to Wie. These are the same cynics who insist The Golf Channel pays too much attention to Tiger Woods.
 
Heres a news flash: Were The Golf Channel. This is what we do. Woods is the biggest story in golf month in and month out. This week Michelle Wie is the biggest story in golf.
 
Just as CNN cant devote too much coverage to President Bush, we cant give too much airtime to Woods and, right now, Wie.
 
Meanwhile back to the question: Will Wie win in this elite field event?
 
My answer is threefold: 1. She can. 2. I wont be surprised if she does. 3. I am not picking her because she hasnt played in a tournament in weeks.
 
My colleague Mark Lye calls this ring rust.
 
Obviously a Wie victory at Samsung would be the biggest story of the week in golf. It might even be the story of the year. And, yes, we root for the story in the news business without trying to root against anybody in particular.
 
For me, the best part about a Wie victory would be the silencing effect it would have on all those critics who have bashed her for not learning how to win at lower levels the way Woods did when he was a junior. My take on that is this: Where is it written that the Woods blueprint is the only path?
 
I like the fact that Wie always has aimed high, entering tournaments against the best competition she can find even if it means her chances for victory---like against a PGA Tour field---are slim.
 
By now I know many of you are shaking your heads and thinking there he goes. Hewitt has been sipping Wie Kool-Aid again. You might be interested in knowing that B.J. Wie, Michelles father, was not happy with me recently when I posited the notion that Morgan Pressel has had a better year in womens golf in 2005 than Michelle Wie.
 
That assessment, by the way, changes if Wie wins this week in Palm Desert.
 
Meanwhile I like the fact that'win or lose'Wie will go with enthusiasm back to Hawaii to take her drivers license test. I like the fact that her father has told me she will not be getting her own car just because she is 16.
 
I like the fact that she has no immediate plans to drop out of school. And I like the fact that she doesnt plan on playing more than two or three PGA Tour events in 2006 when, if she wanted, she could accept up to seven sponsors exemptions.
 
Thanks to Nike and Sony, Michelle Wie is now earning 10 million dollars a year. I like the fact that, at the moment, it hasnt changed her or her parents.
 
Now if youll excuse me, I have to get back to the water cooler. I think a hot topic has just broken out. I think I heard the name Sean OHair..Or was it David Duval?.Or was it
 
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