All right, thanks to Geoff Shackelford and Mulligan Stu, I've been keeping up with the "Wie Washed Up" meme making its rounds in the golfy mediasphere. A wonderful and much-appreciated 18th birthday present, I'm sure, but then again, she didn't have to accept the sponsor's invitation to play in the Samsung World Championship this week. At least the local news is framing the event in ways that go beyond Wie's woes.
Me, I'm worried more about how far south Ai Miyazato's, Mi Hyun Kim's, and Morgan Pressel's games have gone and whether Jee Young Lee's, Sarah Lee's, and Jeong Jang's injuries have healed enough for them to perform at anything close to their full capacity. I'm curious to see if Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, or Maria Hjorth can hang with Ochoa. And I'm hoping the Samsung organizers learn from their mistakes and figure out how to differentiate their event from the ADT Championship and the new HSBC Women's Champions world stroke-play event (to complement their world match-play event) in Singapore that's starting next year. My suggestion would be to drop all single-event or career-based or ratings-based invites--to the year's major winners, to any Hall of Famers or sponsor's exemptions--and make entry into the tournament purely performance-based over the entire year. Invite the top 3 money winners on the KLPGA, JLPGA, and LET and the top 11 from the LPGA. Take the performance-based nature of the ADT and the worldliness of the HSBC match- and stroke-play events and you make the Samsung stand out, that is.
At least the organizers got something right: pairing Wie and Rookie of the Year Angela Park was the absolute right thing to do. Too bad they didn't pair any of the Super Sophs. A Seon Hwa Lee-Morgan Pressel showdown among the top 2 Super Sophs, or a Seon Hwa Lee-Ai Miyazato rematch from the finals of the HSBC or a Seon Hwa Lee-Jee Young Lee battle for top Korean Super Soph status would have been equally compelling. And if they were going to pair Ochoa and Pettersen, why not Korean legends Pak and Kim or top Americans Creamer and Kerr, or, even better, do some Solheim Cup rematches like Castrale and Hauert, Creamer and Hjorth? A lack of imagination for the Thursday pairings goes nicely with a lack of judgment in their lead-up to the tournament, but at some point you'd hope the tournament organizers would build on their successes.
So, yes, my overall point is that women's golf is bigger than Wie. It would be nice if anyone who wasn't already a fan noticed, but I'm not holding my breath, even for the people paid to write about women's golf. What I will say about Wie is that it's too soon to tell how her career will pan out. Every professional is going to have a slump in his or her career--just ask Julieta Granada, Brittany Lang, Meena Lee, or Karrie Webb about this year, or Grace Park and Se Ri Pak about several previous years--what matters is how you get through it and deal with the adversity. Maybe learning how to handle the pressures that come with public and humiliating failure can better prepare you to deal with the pressures that come with success. So I wouldn't put too much weight on Wie's performance this week. When I think about how much my students change over the course of their college careers, I have to laugh at the idea of writing off any 18-year-old.
[Update: Mulligan Stu has updated his post to clarify his position on Wie's career (for those unfamiliar with his writing, it's an excellent precis and representative of the fairness and thoughtfulness of his writing). For those who care about my opinion of Shackelford's LPGA/Wie blogging, you can read my comments at MS's Waggle Room. And I'm not just saying that--or this--b/c I write the occasional diary over there.]