Michelles Plate is Too Full

By Brian HewittJune 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
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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    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

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    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


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    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


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    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.