Wednesday, June 24, 2009

News Flash: Michelle Wie Says Something Smart

One of the reasons I blog so much about women's golf is to keep a record of my reactions to the ways in which women golfers, particularly those of Asian descent, are represented by fans, critics, and the media. One of the things that's bothered me the most about the public image of Michelle Wie, who remains a lightning rod almost halfway into her 1st season as an LPGA member, is the way in which her critics try to present her as a ditzy, spoiled teenager. Well, I have news for those who don't understand what getting into Stanford means. Michelle is smart. Check out what she said in the pre-tournament interviews for the Wegmans:

I always feel like if you hit the ball well, if you putt well, and if you are playing good, you can play good on any type of golf course. And that's how I want my golf game to be. I don't want my game to just be suited for a certain type of golf course. Because golf is going to take you in places that maybe you aren't feeling as comfortable, or maybe, you know, you can't hit the driver 14 times. But you know, you have to adapt to the situation. You have to adapt to the environment. I really want my game to be at a place where I feel comfortable playing on any type of golf course.

Here she acknowledges that Locust Hill doesn't exactly suit her game as it stands now--how could a course with tree-lined, tight fairways, thick rough, and small greens suit someone who's keeping it out of the rough less than 58% of the time off the tee and hitting less than 66% of her greens in regulation?--but expresses the aspiration to get it to the point where she feels comfortable playing it.

I'll still be amazed if Wie breaks into the top 15 this week, but I'm more and more convinced that she's got her head in the right place and working to make herself into a more complete golfer.


Average Golfer said...

She's now a woman whose parents, probably well meaning, but clueless, lived vicariously through her talent. I'd guess they have a good relationship or she could have O'Haired them some time ago. I think she gaining decision making freedom and her results will show in due time.

The Constructivist said...

I don't know if I'd pin so much on her parents. I think 2 things happened, both physical:

1) her body shape changed fairly dramatically from her early to late teens and she needed to adjust her swing accordingly;

2) she got hurt and tried to play through it.

As a result of these physical challenges, the strategic and mental weaknesses you'd expect to see in talented but inexperienced golfers came to the fore.

She's still not nearly out of the woods, but I certainly didn't expect to see her break the $300K barrier so soon this season. So far she's exceeding my expectations in a fairly big way.

The Constructivist said...

The other thing to keep in mind is that while Wie was struggling, her peer group caught up with and passed her. She has some catching up to do to be ranked among the top young guns (cf. my MH guide in the sidebar). But this 25-and-under wave of players is going to completely transform the LPGA and the world of competitive women's golf. Wie is part of that story, but when the media takes her out of that context, they miss the big picture.