by Jeff Skinner
Spending a week in Hawaii is good for the soul. Anyone that spends time there will say something along the lines of it being “the trip of a lifetime” or “it was life changing.” Well this week in Hawaii may just be life changing not only for Michelle Wie but for the LPGA Tour.
Wie may finally have found the formula for success with her new found “game plan” strategy combined with her forsaking the technical aspects of her swing and a concentration on how it feels, not how it looks. Combine those with her unique but effective “tabletop” putting stance and Wie may be on the way to all those wins she was expected to have earned by now.
It is easy to become a prisoner of the moment with Michelle’s LPGA Lotte Championship win but let’s for a moment consider the possibilities if Wie does start to be a force on the LPGA Tour.
There are few players that move the needle in professional golf. Tiger Woods is the biggest draw in golf and the supreme mover of any needle. Phil Mickelson is next but falls well short of Tiger’s effect and next in line is the 24 year old Wie.
We hear analyst after analyst say that the tournament, majors or not are more interesting with Tiger in the field and the same is true of Michelle Wie. Much like Tiger, but to a lesser extent she isn’t only a golfer but a personality that transcends the sport of golf. Wie is recognized by those outside the world of golf and can bring more fans to the game.
The LPGA is getting younger, especially the Americans. Wie seems to have been around for years but is only 24. The winner of the year’s first major, The Kraft Nabisco, Lexi Thompson is only 19. Jessica Korda has a win this year and she’s only 21. Paula Creamer is the oldest of the American winners this season and is the ripe old age of 27.
Let’s not count any chickens here but if Wie and Thompson, a long hitting, wunderkind with three LPGA victories already, can continue to rack up wins the LPGA is in for a significant boost.
Mike Whan, the LPGA Commissioner has to be thrilled with the win by Wie and the season his young American golfers are having. Americans have won half of the eight LPGA events season and that can only boost the LPGA’s television ratings.
Successful campaigns by Wie and Thompson would translate into better ratings for the LPGA which could mean more tournaments and more dollars for the LPGA. And an actual rivalry between two young Americans would be huge. Mike Whan may have his fingers crossed that this is just the beginning.