July 13, 2005
What is Michelle Wie Doing?
Posted by Gordon Smith

One school of thought -- apparently embraced by Wie's parents -- is that she is playing against men because she wants to learn to play against the best golfers in the world. Another school of thought is that she is learning to become a loser.

This week she is playing in the U.S. Men's Amateur Public Links Championship in Lebanon, Ohio. After two rounds of stroke play, she qualified for the match play portion of the tournament, and today, she won her first match. She won the women's version of this tournament in 2003 as a 13-year-old. (Pretty amazing, that.) But recently she is getting more publicity for her spectacular losses.

Comparisons to Tiger Woods are inevitable and frequent, but these two have taken much different paths. Tiger played his peers and dominated them at every level. He learned to have the mindset of a winner, and when he finally turned pro, he was at the top of the game. By contrast, Wie seems to be grasping for goals beyond her reach. (She is playing in the Pub Links not for its own sake, we are told, but because she wants to play in the Masters -- an honor accorded the winner of the tournament.) This is golf's equivalent of throwing a child into the swimming pool and telling her that she had better learn to swim. Will it work? Hard to know, but it seems like a pretty risky strategy with someone as talented as Wie.

UPDATE: Michelle lost to BYU reserve Clay Ogden, who went on to win the Pub Links championship.

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