by Jeff Skinner
A glance at the leader boards of the two major championships this week shows two of the biggest names in golf hovering near the lead. Greg Norman and Michelle Wie are both in contention in their respective majors and a win by either would be significant. These two players are huge attractions in golf and attract an inordinate amount of attention. Whose victory would have a bigger impact on the game? Norman has admittedly been a “part time player” since he left the PGA Tour and moved to the Champions Tour. He spends more time in board meetings than on the practice range and it is only recently that he has concentrated on playing more tournament golf. Norman’s competitive interest has been reignited by his wife, Chris Evert. A win by Norman would be his first as a Senior and would certainly help bring some publicity the Senior golf. Norman’s persona is still as big as ever and he still has a large following. He is still the “Shark” and plays a booming, aggressive game. A Norman win here would mean some added “buzz” to the Senior Tour. If Norman won and continued to be an active tournament golfer, the Senior Tour and golf in general would reap the rewards.
Say what you will about Michelle Wie and how she got here, you still have to recognize that she is one of the biggest names in golf. Wie certainly lacks the pedigree of Norman, but none the less is one of the biggest names in golf. In a sense Wie and Norman are alike. They are both searching for their first win on their tours, they both play an aggressive, long driving game and they attract rock star attention wherever they go. After years of unfulfilled potential, maybe being pushed a little too hard and placed in bad situations, Michelle Wie is where she should be. It is hard to believe she is only a rookie on tour since she has been part of the golfing landscape for so long. She finally earned her LPGA Tour card this year and is playing her best golf of her career. A win here for Wie would be absolutely huge for Wie and for women’s golf. At a time when the LPGA Tour is struggling to retain sponsors and tournaments, a victory by Wie would be just the right medicine for the ailing LPGA. Wie is like Tiger Woods. She draws the casual fan and the non-fan. Millions of people that don’t know a putter from a driver follow Michelle Wie. She is a superstar that transcends the golfing world. A victory for Wie would mean a Solheim Cup spot for her and thereby getting more attention for the Solheim Cup in a few weeks. Having Michelle Wie win here and playing at the Solheim Cup would probably mean millions of dollars in sponsorship dollars for the LPGA Tour. At the very least, it would make the marketing of the tour much easier for the new interim commissioner.
There is plenty of golf left to play for both Wie and Norman. A win by Greg Norman would be great for him and senior golf. A win by Michelle Wie would change the way Wie is perceived, but more significantly, a win could very well rescue the LPGA Tour from the predicament it is in now.