TheSandTrap.com  ›  Blog  ›  Swing Thoughts  ›  The Continuing Michelle Wie Saga 

The Continuing Michelle Wie Saga

Jun. 4, 2007     By     Comments (17)

B.J. Wie is writing the scripts, but is Michelle Wie reading them or silently rebelling against a controlling father?

Michelle WieA few years ago I gave Michelle Wie the benefit of the doubt. Last year I stood up for her. While people were screaming "she hasn't won anything!" (despite winning the 2003 Women's Public Links) and declaring that she should follow the same path Tiger took to success in the world of golf, I sat back. I suggested that the Michelle Wie story will be written by Michelle Wie, and that only years (or decades) later could we sit back and judge whether Wie had taken the best path.

I was both wrong and right. It appears the story is no longer being written by Michelle Wie - she's merely a bit player in the sad story of B.J. Wie's corruption of his daughter. She's the "talent" and he's the ruthless, money-hungry stage dad who's making all the wrong moves.

Though I won't rehash the details of the latest stunt (pulling out of the Ginn Tribute with two holes to play and dangerously close to shooting 88 or higher), I will acknowledge that the whole series of events is what prompted this article. I've said in the past that within five or ten years, Michelle Wie could be out of golf entirely, and nothing about her +14-through-16-holes performance tells me any differently. According to her playing companions, Michelle was unenthused, bored, and playing with no obvious discomfort or pain. Those facts contribute to the growing belief that Wie's Ginn performance was more teenage rebellion than golf star rehabilitation.

Who can blame her? If I'm even within a 650-yard par five of the truth, B.J. Wie has already gone too far in controlling his daughter's career. He needs to be put in his place, and the only person who can do that is Michelle Wie. I'm not sure she can legally do that until she's 18. Despite having always struck me as more "Valley Girl" than "Preppy Nerd," I pray that Michelle is smart enough to know that her father is running her life into the sewers… right after that ball she hit off a parked car and down the storm drain.

When Michelle Wie burst onto the scene, B.J. was urged by virtually everyone to follow the Earl Woods method of raising a champion golfer. Instead, B.J. appears to be following in the footsteps of one Marc O'Hair. But there's one important difference: B.J. was smart enough to wait for his offspring to rake in a few million bucks before he went totally ape-shit zany.

People are fond of saying "but she's only 17 years old" as a way of excusing her behavior, but it explains her behavior to me. How much of Michelle's behavior is about obeying - or, perhaps even worse, trusting - her father and how much of it is about doing what she wants to do? How many of the decisions regarding her career and her golf game does Michelle actually make? Probably about the same number as her professional career win total.

The LPGA Tour has reached a critical point in its lifetime. The mess commissioner Carolyn Bivens made of early 2006 has passed. Rising stars like Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Lorena Ochoa, and Brittany Lincicome clashing with resurgent veterans like Se Ri Pak and Carrie Webb have made headlines. The LPGA Tour hasn't been this compelling since Nancy Lopez stormed the Tour in 1978, and it only stands to get more interesting with good play from Michelle Wie and the return of Annika Sorenstam.

Just as Tiger has tremendously benefitted the PGA Tour and its players, Michelle Wie could benefit not only herself but hundreds of female professional golfers. I still believe she has the potential to take the LPGA Tour and women's golf to new and exciting places, so I'm calling on the LPGA Tour to not only look out for its own interests, but the welfare of a young little girl with a lot of talent and a deranged parent.

Was Michelle's Ginn performance a silent protest and a muted cry for help? Or was it just a bad performance from a talented golfer with a lot going on? Either way, it wasn't what B.J. had written.

Discussion

  1. Q.Q.Quillume says:

    Well, it's pretty hard to buy into the theory that "it was just a bad performance from a talented golfer with a lot going on." It would seem to be pretty hard for her game to have fallen this far this fast if she were truly putting forth a reasonable effort, to say nothing of her best effort. "88" [or whatever] for someone who has contended at LPGA majors, is really not in the equation unless something is drastically wrong. Silent protest? Maybe. Muted cry for help? Maybe. Only Michelle knows and she ain't talking.

  2. Ray says:

    Erik it was the simple fact that she had no putter and no short game that told me years ago that she was never what they said she was. It's plain in simple that she was never any better than the others on the LPGA Tour and never deserved to be treated as so. It was a fantasy to believe that she had the game to make the PGA Tour and it was a coin flip to think she would ever dominate the LPGA. The stunt team Wie pulled on the weekend is meaningless because she still has to play the game and her game is in serious trouble.

  3. Shindig says:

    Very excellent article. You put very well into words what I'd been thinking for a while.

    The O'Hair comparison is both interesting and right on. I wonder how much, if any, of Michelle's money her dad was able to get, perhaps as an agent fee or whatever. I'm sure there are laws to protect her in these cases, just as there are laws to protect child actors' parents from running off with it.

    I actually wonder if she enjoys golf as a hobby. I doubt from her behavior that she wants it as a career. And, like Sean O'Hair, she turned pro so early that she can't play college golf.

    Wie's father, like Marc O'Hair, seems to have the goal in mind of raising a top golfer. I seem to recall that Earl Woods didn't have this in mind, but rather was aiming at developing his child as a well behaved and well rounded adult. Academics came first for Woods, and I wonder if Sean or Michelle's grades were ever an issue for their parents.

    I know way too many people who, at 17, were doing poorly in school in hopes that they wouldn't end up having to go to college for their parents' first-choice degree program. I know others who purposefully failed out of college rather than complete a degree they had no interest in. I was thinking of them when I heard about Michelle's near-88.

    Her 18th birthday is a few months away. Lots of things can happen when she's 18: there might be a big "blank you" letter home after legally declaring herself independent. Or, on her own at Stanford (is dad going to give up his job and follow her there?), she might find a love for golf again and play well on account of talent, skill, and that she enjoys it. It may well be an interesting October.

  4. DFife says:

    I would have to agree with your assessment of BJ Wie. You would think that after shooting a bunch of radio stations in the men's tournaments and the two wrist injuries someone in the "Wie Camp" would say maybe we should limit the schedule to LPGA events only. Play the number of tournaments alloted to a non-member and go from there.

    After last weeks score what are we looking at when she eventually tees it up at the John Deere. Would a disastrous appearance there end the sponsor exemptions on the PGA tour?

    I think she's an unbelievable talent that will be run into the ground with the current plan. However, I think the LPGA will still be in good shape with the pool of talent that it has accumulated in the last five years.

  5. Erik it was the simple fact that she had no putter and no short game that told me years ago that she was never what they said she was.

    Her short game had nothing to do with the recent events, and her short game was quite good in the U.S. Women's Open last year after she had an off-week with it at the U.S. Open qualifier (men). Most LPGA players don't seem to have a short game like most men - for whatever reason - so Michelle's is at least as good as most of the LPGA Tour players.

    Either way, her short game is not really the topic of discussion here.

    It's plain in simple that she was never any better than the others on the LPGA Tour and never deserved to be treated as so.

    Uhm, yes, she was. And probably will be again. Need I quote this from the article I linked to?

               British       Kraft       LPGA       U.S. Open
    Wie         T3 (2)       T3 (2)      T5 (4)     T3 (2) = 10
    Sorenstam   T5 (4)       T6 (5)      T9 (8)     1 (0)  = 17

    So c'mon, at least be reasonable.

    And, like Sean O'Hair, she turned pro so early that she can't play college golf.

    I was quite surprised she even chose to go to college. I wonder how long she'll be there.

    Wie's father, like Marc O'Hair, seems to have the goal in mind of raising a top golfer. I seem to recall that Earl Woods didn't have this in mind, but rather was aiming at developing his child as a well behaved and well rounded adult.

    I think it was Earl Woods' goal… so long as it was Tiger's goal, too. If Tiger had suddenly said he wanted to be a great mathematician, I don't think Earl would have kept pushing golf. But no, from what I've heard, what Earl did was what he thought was best to help Tiger become a pro golfer. The mom focused on the well-roundedness and let Earl mentally prepare Tiger for competition. Academics came first, as you said, but outside of that it was golf.

    There might be a big "blank you" letter home after legally declaring herself independent.

    At 18, I don't believe she needs a letter. She is. At 17, she'd need a court order, I believe. Plus, and not to confuse genders here, but I don't think she has the cojones to do it even at 18.

    Play the number of tournaments alloted to a non-member and go from there.

    Or apply for membership and see what happens. It's not like she's still 15. She's almost 18 and the LPGA Tour let Morgan Pressel join at 17 as soon as she'd graduated high school. They could do the same for Wie.

    After last weeks score what are we looking at when she eventually tees it up at the John Deere.

    I'm more interested in her scores in the LPGA McDonald's Whatever this week.

  6. Jack Waddell says:

    I'm more interested in her scores in the LPGA McDonald's Whatever this week.

    While I agree that pulling out was the smart thing to do under the circumstances, all the machinations of her parents, her agent, and possibly the complicity of the LPGA just really stinks.

    Her millions in endorsement money was earned solely on the basis of her potential and her star quality. I think that star is becoming increasingly tarnished thanks to her controlling father. And her potential remains now somewhat suspect thanks to her most recent performances. If I were Nike or Sony I wouldn't be hitting the panic button yet, but I'd sure be watching things closely.

    Still, as Erik mentioned, I want to reserve full judgment on her and the state of her game until we see what she does at the McDonald's. At the very least she was unprepared at the Ginn. If it were more than that, were it an act of rebellion as Erik has suggested, I think her second time out will tell us a lot more.

  7. Jobian Hua says:

    Come on now... I Think Annika is puling the OLD throw a dog the bone trick... This will keep the media off her poor start.
    I think as the Spokesperson of the Tournament she should keep her mouth shut.... By the way is there HGH control in LPGA...

  8. Elgragonyo says:

    While I agree that pulling out was the smart thing to do under the circumstances, all the machinations of her parents, her agent, and possibly the complicity of the LPGA just really stinks.

    what machinations?

    why dont you guys GET OFF BJ's a ss?

    BJ and Michelle's agent are there to protect her...

    Pls dont compare BJ to Earl and other Daddys...These people even though they're all americans they still have different cultural background and they brought up their children in different ways...

  9. Tim Gooer says:

    Michelle,
    Listen, you need some more guidance. You have an entourage, but they probably have not given too many good advices in the last year or so. You have grown a lot, and now you really need some sound advice. There are too many things you want to accomplish, and to your surprise, you may not be able to achieve them all in your lifetime. So pick the most important goal, and go after it. College, fun, man's tour, and what else? Nothing seems to related to your real goals. If these are your trues goals, then you will be disappointed - because some of them you will get in one day, four years, or never. And they should not be real career goals.
    You need a real friend who can give you good advices.
    T

  10. Tim Gooer says:

    By the way, if you check the players' profile, Michelle is the only one without a photo. Really? That's bad.
    T

  11. Jeff says:

    Does anyone remember what they were like at seventeen and a half?
    Compare:
    More money earned already than most make in a lifetime.
    Punahou
    Stanford (tied with Harvard and Yale) academic admission.
    A blinding future.

  12. 230 says:

    I was at Wailea last fall and played behind Michele Wie. She played by herself with her parents on her heels. When she got to each tee she held her hand out directly behind her and her father handed her a tee and a ball. After planting it her mother would hand her a club. She would hit 3 balls off the tee and play them. After hitting tee shot her parents would get in a cart and she would start walking down the fairway. Not once during the entire round (that i could see)was there any conversation between all of them and very little eye contact. Prior to the round in the pro shop she came in alone and was very nice to all the people who worked there. When her father walked in you could sense a mood change and she went directly to the putting green and he did not acknowledge one person in the shop. It was kind of sad to see this because she did and still does hopefully have the potential to be great. There is definitely something wrong there with the family dynamics. Odd but I could not help to feel sorry for her no matter what people say or think about her raking in millions with really not much to show for it. Also, just a note about her putting. I watched her on the putting green alone sink everything...even with the nike mallet she was using. It appears and can't be certain but her father does seem to need to get away from this child and not only let her enjoy life but also excel in the game. Possibly this is the type of relationship they have always had but at least from my perspective it did not seem like a happy one.

  13. Mark "ezmoney5150" Bresky says:

    When she turns 18 she needs to get her father out of her career. If I remember right she's represented by IMG. They know what they're doing not BJ Wie.

    She also needs to work on short game. She's got a great swing coach now she needs Dave Pelz.

  14. Baynative says:

    Once the demons take up residence the game is in jeopardy.

  15. LeAnn says:

    Michelle,
    As you can see here in this article, many are willing to give their advise and press that their counsel is right for you. They have no interest in and of themselves. Your parents are the only ones who will protect you and look out for your best interest. You are their child and blood relative. They care for you tremendously and only want what is best for you. They are older with a lot more wisdom. Stick with them as they are your protectors and will neve let anyone get the best of you.
    KEEP THE FATH PARENTS!!!! YOU ARE AWESOME.
    DON'T LISTEN TO THESE NEGATIVE FOOLISH ADVISE.
    It is a known fact that outsiders DISLIKE WITH A PASSION, the parents role in any child's career.

  1. [... A few years ago I gave Michelle Wie the benefit of the doubt. Last year I stood up for her. While people were screaming "she hasn't won anything!" (despite winning ...]

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.