Michelle Wie used the first 18 holes of her US Open qualifier to put to rest the arguments of many critics that she does not deserve to be making a run at the men’s tour. Her second 18 potentially reopened the door to the argument, and while Wie should have the right to compete in her country’s Open Championship, maybe there has been a little too much hype too soon.
Wie posted a very impressive 1-under on her first 18, making an incredible chip on the 18th hole to put her within striking distance of making the top-18. But her afternoon round left much to be desired, especially the final four holes, where she fell apart to finish at 1-over, five shots off the cut mark.
There is no age qualification for the Open, nor should there be. Neither is there a restriction barring female players from attempting to play their way into the Open. And that is the way it should be. After all, it is the United States Golf Association Open Championship, not the Closed Men’s Championship. It comes down to your game and a little cash. With a handicap index of 1.4 and $150, you got a chance. Wie easily meets those qualifications.
But the mention of the money should be a reason to pause. Of course, $150 is just babysitting money, but what role does money play in all of this? And not just money for Wie. There are serious corporate interests in Wie’s success on the professional circuit. Namely, IMG and Nike. There is no doubting that both companies, who have an extremely vested interest in the young Hawaiian, want Wie to receive as much exposure as possible. But how much is too much, and when does the pressure become more of a burden and even a detriment?
Wie is being made to grow up very fast. And at what cost? Sure, she still seems innocent and unaffected, talking and giggling like any normal high school 16-year old. But the media can not judge what is going on inside the mind of the soon-to-be high school senior. What if the pressure becomes too great? Why overexpose her now? Not to mention the fact that eventually golf fans may grow tired of being force-fed Wie stories before she even has a chance to be fully appreciated for the great golfer she is likely to become. At a certain point, the media will reach an oversaturation point, just ask people who had to endure Barry Bonds coverage the last two months, and people could turn off to the big Wiese. That would not be fair to her.
She still has along way to go before her game rounds itself out into the beautiful form it is most likely destined to become. And she still has much maturing to do in order to deal with the attention and the mental drain of competing at such a high level. The media should back off less they suffocate Wie and gag the fans of the sports.
Sure she is a great story, but how much of the story is created by the media telling us it is a story. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound? Ask Tadd Fujikawa. Oh, you don’t know who he is, either? Join the crowd. Amidst all of the Wie hype, Fujikawa went relatively unnoticed as the 15-yearold made the cut and qualified for the U.S. Open. Yes, there is another teenage phenom in Hawaii, not that the mainstream golf media is taking about him. Guess he doesn’t have IMG and Nike on his payroll, or vice versa.