by Jeff Skinner
Michelle Wie finally found a way to win her first professional golf tournament. It was bound to happen, except that according to all the experts it should have happened years ago. Wie shot an impressive three under par round to claim a two stroke victory over Paula Creamer. Coming into this week’s Lorena Ocoha Invitational, Wie has had a very good season with seven top tens and two second place finishes. She was never able to put it all together to win a tournament and the pressure on her has been growing exponentially. She played like a girl on a mission in the final round. Tied for the lead and paired with veteran and new found friend, Cristie Kerr, thanks to The Solheim Cup, the stage was set for Michelle to collapse again. After all, she was winless and Kerr is a shark, a closer, when it comes to closing out a tournament.
Michelle looked like the veteran player, even though she is still only a rookie on the LPGA Tour. She started off hot and birdied two of the first three holes. Kerr could only manage a mediocre round of par and finished tied for third three strokes back. Michelle’s real competition came from Paula Creamer who is still looking for her first win of 2009. Creamer’s bid faded with bogeys on fourteen and seventeen and Michelle stood on the eighteenth tee with a one stroke lead. When her second shot landed in a greenside bunker she was left with a long sand shot to the pin. It could have been a disaster for her but she shunned the pressure and made the shot of the day. He bunker shot rolled to two feet from the hole and left her an easy birdie. She knocked it in and felt the weight of women’s golf lift off her shoulders. Michelle Wie has now won on The LPGA Tour, for many it is years past due.
When Michelle Wie started playing in professional tournaments at fourteen she was heralded as the greatest young talent in golf. She was supposed to be so much better than the women on tour. She was the “next Tiger.” She was “the sure thing.” She was so confident of being great that her dreams weren’t of winning on the LPGA Tour, she dreamed of winning The Masters and beating the men. Then real life intervened. According to John Lennon “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” and life happened to Michelle.
Michelle Wie was an extremely gifted teenager that played golf like a professional long before she turned pro at eighteen. Unfortunately, over the years a number of issues kept Michelle from playing her best golf. She was managed by her domineering father for years who kept putting Michelle in situations where she continued to struggle. Wie has had her share of injuries both physical and emotional. She has been mismanaged for years and it is only recently that she has been allowed to mature as an individual and become more of her own person.
With Michelle attending Stanford University and finally being on her own she has began to mature into the role of a young professional woman, that she could only pretend to be when she first came into the world spotlight. At The Solheim Cup this year Michelle was given the chance to be “one of the girls” as Captain Beth Daniel banned everyone except team personnel from all the team activities. That meant Michelle was given the chance to bond with her teammates without the interference from her parents, agents and handlers. It paid off as Michelle was the star of the Cup, but more importantly she looked like she was relishing the independence.
As parents we try to do what we think is best for our children and sometimes our good intentions hinder our children more than help them. We tend to forget that Michelle is still just twenty years old and a full time college student. She has been living in an adult world for years that she may not have been ready for. As a parent of a young woman Michelle’s age I have realized that our kids grow up and mature at their own pace. My daughter amazes me with her maturity, confidence and independence each day. I have always said that our children grow up to become the people they are in spite of us, not because of us. It is time that Michelle’s parents step back and let her live an independent life. For all the pressure and issues heaped upon a teenage Michelle Wie, she appears to maturing into a competent young woman. She is still a kid, albeit a kid playing a game for millions of dollars. On the eighteenth green she looked like a kid winning her first tournament, and that’s a good thing. There will be plenty of time to be an adult. Enjoy college Michelle; enjoy being a kid for a few more years. There world needs happy kids and so does the LPGA Tour.