How, the reader asked, can Michelle Wie be ranked No. 2 in the world when she hasnt won anything?
So I am going to answer once and for all. And here it is:
Because, by virtue of the results of her tournament play the past two years, she actually IS the second-best player in the world.
I didnt say that its because shes anybodys favorite. Its not because Rolex (the rankings sponsor) happens to really like Michelle Wie. Its not part of a sinister plot to put her in the No. 2 position, waiting for that day when No. 1 Annika Sorenstam retires. Its not because the rankings have been rigged in her favor, not because she made $10 million dollars when she turned pro.
And despite what you might think about her personally, or her father, or her repeated invites to play against the men and her repeated acceptance of same ' she has performed better than anyone save Annika for the past two years.
The women are about to play their final major this week - the Weetabix Womens British Open - and Wie has excelled in the first three. In fact, she has excelled more than anyone, which is largely the reason she is ranked second.
Wie finished in a tie for third at Kraft Nabisco, a tie for fifth at McDonalds, and in the U.S. Womens Open, she also tied for third. That is an average finish of 3.67.
Sorenstam, No. 1, has a T6 at Kraft Nabisco, and T9 at McDonalds and a win in the Open. Her record also is very good ' 5.33 for the three majors. But it still isnt as good as Wies.
Now about the woman ranked immediately beneath Wie, No. 3 Karrie Webb? Webb won the Kraft Nabisco, was second in the McDonalds - but tied for 37th in the Open. Her average finish? 13.3.
OK, how about No. 4, Lorena Ochoa? Lost in a playoff at Nabisco, finished T9 at McDonalds, T20 at the Open. Her average finish is 10.3.
Nos. 4, 5 and 6 ' Paula Creamer, Cristi Kerr and Juli Inkster ' arent on the same page as Wie, either. Creamers average finish is almost 30, Kerr is 22.7, Inkster is 15.
And, the fact is that Wie only plays in the toughest tournaments ' her high school studies in Hawaii wont allow for a full LPGA schedule, and she is limited to just eight tournaments because of LPGA restrictions. She plays in the Hawaii events, which are the weakest fields in which she competes. But otherwise, her schedule thus far this year has included all three womens majors, the World Match Play and the Evian Masters ' all against the toughest fields womens golf can muster. Her worst finish of all, incidentally, is the tie for fifth that she recorded at both McDonalds and the Match Play.
Can there be any argument that she shouldnt be ranked second in the world? Last year, when the rankings started, she finished second in the SBS Open, second at McDonalds, tied for third in the Womens British, tied for second at Evian, and finished T23 at the Open after leading going into the final day.
Nowhere, incidentally, does it say anything about counting only victories. Morgan Pressel is ranked No. 16, Natalie Gulbis 17th, Brittany Lang 18th and they own nary a victory, either. I have never been asked why these players are ranked so high without posting a win, incidentally. The fact that all three are 23 or younger ' yes, they are still girls if you will ' is indication that all will eventually break through with a victory. And if that is true of that trio, it is even more true in the case of a 16 year old - Wie.
This is quoted verbatim from the Rolex Rankings website: The Rolex Rankings will share the established men's world rankings philosophy of awarding points based on the field strength and evaluate a player's performance over a rolling two-year period
Hmmm see anything in that explanation about this being a ranking only of tournament winners? You dont? I dont, either.
The original gripe was that Rolex set up the 15-tournament for two years just to make sure that it included Wie. Untrue, said LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens.
The 15-tournament rule was instituted at the behest of the Japanese and Korean tours, both of whom play far fewer than the 32 tournaments the LPGA will play in 2006. Those tours were concerned that, if it took more than 15 events to be ranked, the Far East women might never be included.
Michelle Wie was never a factor in making the rule 15 tournaments. And, incidentally, Bivens would hardly gain anything by saying otherwise ' Wie is not a member of the LPGA. The stipulation, incidentally, has been changed this week to denote that there is NO mininum now listed - play one pro tournament and you are eligible to be ranked.
Wie has heard the garbage, read the criticisms, and it has cut deep. You cant be just 16 years old and not have it hurt, especially coming from adults who are twice, three times her age. She has steeled herself against it, however.
People have their right to talk, Wie says. I mean, everyone is going to have their own opinions. I have my opinions of everyone else. But, you know, it's just - that's the way the world is.
And thats the way the Rolex Rankings are, pure and simple. The rankings measure who is playing the best golf ' not who has or has not yet won a tournament. And like it or not, that means Michelle Wie.
Email your thoughts to George White