Michelle Wie is just 15. That has become almost meaningless because she already has played so much, accomplished so much in the big-time arenas. But what if she were a boy of 15 and just finished runner-up ' thats second place, for heavens sakes! ' in a PGA Tour event?
Wie finished in a tie for second last week in the SBS Open, losing to Jennifer Rosales by just two shots. She shot 70 for three straight days while playing in 40-mile-an-hour winds. I cant fathom a 15-year-old doing that. OK, the tournament was played in Hawaii. And Annika didnt play. But come on, people, lets inject a little realism here. It WAS a LPGA Tour event.
I know, many of you think Wie is way overdone. Some have said their neighbors/aunts/friends went to see her and she was stuck up, didnt talk to the gallery, etc. etc. But people ' were talking about a 15-YEAR-OLD here! You dont expect a Lee Trevino chattering on with the crowd, do you? What were you doing when you were 15, anyway?
OK, so thats a little off the subject, but it really amazes me to hear what some people are thinking. I dont know Michelle, honestly, but I do know a lot of the women who play the LPGA. And to a person, those grown-up ladies are extremely impressed by this girl.
She's an amazing player. There's no doubt about it,' Rosales said. 'She's going to give us a lot of challenges and make us work harder.'
Kerr readily agrees. 'She is a veteran at 15, if she can be called that,' Kerr said. 'She has an amazing game and is a real sweet girl.'
The LPGAs lame-duck commissioner, Ty Votaw, admits he hasnt seen a woman-child with Michelles poise. 'She's still 15 years old and she's trying to do things that no other 15-year-old has done,' he said. 'That's certainly empowering all the young girls out there to say there are no limitations.'
Wie would have earned $78,787 at the SBS were she not an amateur. She would have earned more than $250,000 last year in seven LPGA events, which would have placed her easily inside the top 50 were she a pro. She had six top-20 finishes in seven LPGA events last year, including a fourth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a major championship.
Woods has said before that he believes Michelle should experience the feeling of winning more, playing in more junior events to pad her victory totals. Winning begats winning, he believes. But now, hes not so sure that she doesnt have something here.
In the end, she might be so talented she might just win everything, agreed Tiger. And it might be a new way of doing it.'
Michelles father says the money that she has foregone by not being a pro is not an issue. It probably costs $50,000 a year ' minimum ' for her (and her parents) to play the seven or eight pro events in which she competes across the globe. Father B.J. says she would have turned pro last year if the family really needed the money. But Michelle says she still plans on going to Stanford University ' though almost everyone expects her to turn professional in the next couple of years.
The money she has given up? If her father doesnt really mind, then she doesnt, either.
'I don't really feel like, 'Oh, I should've turned pro, darn it, said Wie. I'm just happy with my second-place finish. I like having a pretty carefree life right now, not having to think about if I don't make the cut that means I make no money.'
Then what we are seeing, apparently, is someone playing the sport and displaying amateurism in its truest colors. Is she not playing purely for the love of competing? Is that not what the word amateur really means?
It may not last much longer ' if she should win an event this year (at age 15, no less), its difficult to see her still playing in tournaments as an amateur. But we really dont know if being a professional golfer is the ultimate dream of Michelle. She is a near straight-A student, and undoubtedly there is a part of her that longs to see where this excellence in the school books would take her.
If golf is her ultimate goal, however, there is so much success that would appear to be hers. Michelle Wie is just 15, but she has made so many grown-ups dizzy trying to plan her future. They might as well step back until Wie is ready. Butcher, baker, candlestick maker where is she ultimately going?
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