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« "So crude as to be ridiculous" | Main | “The press have thrown a cloak of tawdriness over his lifestyle and his family and his mother.” »

"Wie has certainly had her share of rules issues since she started playing out on the LPGA Tour.  Most have been her fault." **

Thanks to tweets by awestruck viewers, I was able to catch some of the bizarre scene when Michelle Wie was in the TV truck discussing a ruling that cost her two shots and solo second at La Costa, five shots behind winner Hee Kyung Seo.

There wasn't much coverage online when I looked (and no video on YouTube yet either), but naturally John Vander Borght was all over many elements of the weird scene at Free Drop, including the pecularity (but great TV!) of Golf Channel offering live coverage of Wie's spirited defense of her attempt to save her Nike white skirt from an unfortunate rendezvous with mud.

I also believe it was wrong for the LPGA to allow the Golf Channel to broadcast from the trailer.  These kind of things should be conducted in private, not with the entire world looking on.   Wie did a good job of arguing her point, but it seemed the official had his mind made up and wasn’t about to give in to her.  She handled it all with dignity and class.

I think she should have asked for the entire Rules Committee to make the ruling, not just the official who made the original ruling.  That would be within her rights.

The ruling cost her nearly $90,000.

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Reader Comments (46)

What I saw today was a complete embarrassment.

I have never had any animosity about Michelle Wie what-so-ever. Today, my opinion was changed.
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato

I'd be interested in Frank Hannigan's opinion on this. I was under the impression that in such a situation a Rules official is not supposed to try to read a player's mind or body language. Thus, as John Vander Borght wrote, the player is supposed to be given the benefit of the doubt.
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ierubino
She was very wrong about this one. Her balance was never in question. Why she continued to press the issue is beyond me, especially given that cameras were present.

I think the most telling moment was when she said that she wasn't just arguing this point to avoid looking like a cheater. Why even bring up such a prospect?
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJR
Could you repost your original. I deleted by accident. Had a spam attack and accidentally included yours in the list I was removing.
03.28.2010 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Having seen the video, Wie's "argument" was disgraceful. She clearly is incapable of accepting any kind of responsibility for her actions. That this keeps happening over and over with her makes it easy to question her motives as well as her integrity. Stanford seems to be breeding cheating prodigies.
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterFWIW
"They interpreted it differently than what I felt," Wie said. "I knew I did ground the club. At the same time I knew that I felt off balance. I closed my eyes and hit the shot and grounded my club so I wouldn't fall into the water while wearing a white skirt."

Don't blame Stanford. Blame the parents.
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
just pitiful

at no point did she put any weight on the club

she actually almost completely released her hold on it, before letting it FALL to rest on the ground

Val tried to help her out, and I loved her suggestion to actually learn the rules...

good grief
03.28.2010 | Unregistered Commentergolfboy
Caught the whole scenario. Sorry to say but Wie is a compulsive liar. She needs help.

White skirt, eyes closed, arguing that she was trying to keep balance - wtf? It was a clear cut violation, the officials gave her an out, tried to be as objective as they could and she argued acted a baby. An embarrassment to herself, her parents, Stanford, Nike and the LPGA. Sadly, it was not the first time.

That said, agreed that none of the conversations should not have been public, especially in the trailer.
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterNRH
Michelle was arguing that she was "off balance." The Rule says "to prevent falling." I'd have listened to her, and I'd have confidently ruled the same way. Objectively, I don't think she was "off balance." But "off balance" doesn't matter in any event. Did she fall? No. Was she falling, and use the club to prevent a fall? Clearly not. Another bad day for Michelle Wie.
She knew she grounded the club while her ball was in the hazard. I don't buy her version; but even if what she said was true, it's not sufficient to avoid the penalty.
Is she still going to Stanford? Are they in classes now? What happened to her Sony bag-billboard deal?
03.28.2010 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Here's the problem I have. Rory McIlroy kicks the sand and gets the benefit of the doubt, Kenny Perry improves his lie and gets the benefit of the doubt. Michelle Wie doesn't. Did she break a rule? (albeit a stupid one) Yes. But I would love officials to rule by the book fpr every player not just chosen ones
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
Please explain how grounding your club in a hazard is a stupid rule?
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
USA's pro golfers need to work harder. They are getting ruled by Asians except Wie.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBobby
Wie lied when she said if she had known the ball was still in the hazard she would have raised her club over her head. First, the video clearly shows her eyes tracking the ball back into the hazard before she grounded her club. Second, if she could have raised her club without grounding it, was she really afraid for her balance? I think not. She just thought she was clever by arguing a fear of falling defense which she thought could not be refuted save for a mind reader. In truth her balance was rock solid throughout and she just spaced out and let her club hit the ground.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Blakemore
To me it looked like Wie was checking her left shoe for mud or water when she put her club down..There was no way she was off balance..She had her right foot/leg in the water and it was sturdy..She may have closed her eyes at impact and a split second after but you can see her head look down at her left shoe..It was a little annoying the way The Golf Channel followed Wie on the golf cart all the way down to her discussion with the officials..Seo's win became an afterthought..The girl just won her first LPGA tourney and we have to follow Wie on a golf cart..
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commenterpitman55
Having a silver spoon in your mouth can affect balance, but in this case I'd say it was causing interference with synapse function. Learn the rules, be aware of the situation (caddie also, it doesn't hurt to remind your player given the past), and please be mature enough to accept the result when your decision doesn't come off as planned.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterOld Hornet
Not for the first time Old Hornet nails it.
She doesnt know the rules and should urgently get some help rather than trying to make lame excuses/ arguaments.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commenterchico
I don't think it's a question of her not knowing this particular rule otherwise she'd have grounded it in the first place. However, although I think it was an inadvertent reflex on her part, it does appear as if she has tried to defend the indefensible. She needs to go look up the word integrity and start applying its ethos to her game plan.
If she was worried about falling, seems that only falling to her right or backwards would have been the problem. So how does lightly grounding her club to her left and a little in front of her help? That would only push her in the direction that she didn't want to fall towards. Not buying it.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterRM
Geoff, the issue isn't about testing (13-4a); it is about touching (13-4b).

Looks like the correct ruling to me.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan Hanson
Honey, it's your moment and your career and you do what you want ... but why try to hit the ball out in the first place? The percentage of making a successful shot out of water is very low. But, hey ... you're decision.

Anyhow, there are a bunch of rules in golf. It's impressive to the little people to act like you know all of them.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Priss!
A pretty clear violation of the rule. Remember whatshisname (I obviously don't) at the tournament at PGA National a few weeks ago? He barely touched the water taking the club back. No testing, no improvement, no moving a loose impediment, no building a stance, and the act had absolutely nothing to do with the success of the shot: 2-stroke penalty nevertheless, and rightly so. Young Michelle needs to grow up.
MP!: Anyone who has ever played in a tournament at any level where someone else is keeping your score knows this rule. Well, except for the guy who took two practice swings and hit the ground in a hazard (before I could remind him of the rule) when I was keeping his card. He still doesn't speak to me and he still hasn't come close to breaking 80 when he is being watched. Oops.
Entitled little snot suffers from that disease Tiger had... self absorbment syndrome!
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterOn Tour
Thank you, you spectral presence.

Knowledge of the rules of a game you play recreationally or as a professional is a respect for the game. Pretty simple. She'll be fine. The smart set lives ... makes mistakes ... and learns.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Priss!
The telecast repeatedly referred to and showed Wie's blonde "agent" nearby, who, from what could be seen, was as hapless as Michelle, more so for presumably having some duty to her. The agent should have "requested" the conference be conducted in private rather than broadcast live. She also should have provided a bit of counseling to Michelle to calm her down, walk her through the options, and not let her be interviewed following the ruling while on the verge of teenage tears.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commenterpasaplayer
I don't have the Wie-hate that many do, and I'm going to say that a spirited defense in the heat of competition is completely warranted. Was it McNutly in the British a couple years ago got a bad ruling and hit his next shot while glaring at the rules official (kind of a neat trick, btw). No one talks of him being spoiled. Maybe a tad bit of sexism going on here?

But, that said, I don't see a lot of slipping here and putting the club down that way doesn't really prevent slipping. It looked more like the "ah, crap" dejection drop of the club. As RM suggests above, the touching of the club up the hill isn't really going to stop the slipping. If she turned the club over and used it to get herself out, then mabe I would see the argument. But, as John at Free Drop points out, only the player knows if they are slipping, so they have to take some of it on faith.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
She handled it with dignity and class? She said the same thing time and again, and then when she realized the officials were not going to yield to her attempts as justification, she mocked the official's comment using the same voice my six-year-old uses when he mocks his older sister. We've never accused him of being dignified and classy when he does that.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commentercmoore
One of the few times you'll ever see me disagreeing with Geoff, but the rules are the rules. There is nothing silly about it. I'm not a Wie hater either, but now, I'm questioning her ethics. Yesterday, listening to her reasons, well they were changing as the minutes wore on.

Also, KUDOS to Golf Channel for following it. What I saw, and despite what JVB feels about it being a private, off-camera issue, it was great T.V.. It had me captured to the screen; I couldn't believe what was going on.

When was the last time a golf tournament did that, let alone an LPGA tournament?!?!?
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
Wie looked bad. The officials ruled correctly but they could have explained their ruling better by pointing to the wording in the rule, namely, "to prevent falling." No one should have allowed the cameras to show the discussion - caddy, agent, LPGA, officials. In the long term she may lose a lot more than $90,000 because of this. Yesterday she lost me as a fan.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commentercbell
Golf Rules gurus: How is this different than when Woody Austin fell in to the water with his club in his hand at the Presidents Cup in 2007? Is it only because he hit the ball out of the hazard that he was able to swan dive with his club without penalty?
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSouth of Boston
1- Because he fell into the water and you can use your club to help you in that case
2-Rule 1-4 Equity- what was he supposed to do?Throw his club out of the hazard whilst doing a triple salko mid-fall!
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commenterchico
I feel that if the Committee had given her the benefit of the doubt, then she would have lost more than the $90,000 she would have gained. Her reputation on tour would have been unsalvageable.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin
Rules schmools, Michelle's maturing nicely. Must be all the hoochie coochie.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Blabbie
things they teach you in junior golf

1-play fast

2-dont hit into people

3- farthest from hole plays first

4-do not ground club in hazard.

oh, wait, M Wie didnt play jr golf--she went right to the tour. now i get it.

how many tour pros, each week, will hoist a club over their heads to avoid touching sand in a bunker? Lots. how many, having been told the rule, will argue with the official? very few.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHitter
Personally, I think Michelle had a point. The rule allows you to put the club down to prevent yourself from falling. It does not say that you have to be "mid-fall," "early fall," or in the "middle of shifting weight in a falling direction" or even in motion to come within the exception. She had just splashed water up towards her face, she's standing with one foot on a slope and one in the water, and is looking for her ball. If she says letting her hand drop towards the ground until the club hit the ground steadied her when she felt off-balanced, I don't see how the Rules of Golf were upheld by studying the tape for objective evidence of her actually slipping or falling.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitch Martin
Her response was so petulant -- and so familiar to our times. She seemed to be saying, "I didn't feel guilty so that means I wasn't guilty."
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHod
If there is any doubt on a ruling, I think that most golfers would want to side with the officials to avoid any appearance of impropriety and thus protect the field. This player has no concept of what it means to be a sportsman and has been caught cheating before.

Rankin rightly pointed out that when 3 rules officials agree on the call, it's time for the player to end their protest and show a little class. I bet 99 of 100 people would agree that the penalty was a correct one. Why would anyone agree with Wie who clearly does not know the rules. It was another pathetic performance by the entitlement kid millionaire.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jax
If there is any doubt on a ruling, I think that most golfers would want to side with the officials to avoid any appearance of impropriety and thus protect the field. This player has no concept of what it means to be a sportsman and has been caught cheating before.

Rankin rightly pointed out that when 3 rules officials agree on the call, it's time for the player to end their protest and show a little class. I bet 99 of 100 people would agree that the penalty was a correct one. Why would anyone agree with Wie who clearly does not know the rules. It was another pathetic performance by the entitlement kid millionaire.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jax
She and her parents have made a bunch of bad choices, and it is really too bad she has trouble following the rules, but I wish her well out there.

She is ranked number nine in the world (second-highest American by my count), which is pretty impressive for someone who made a lot of (bad) choices that prevented her from racking up junior victories when they probably would have taught her how to compete and how to win. As it is, she went a real long time without a victory and seemed to lose her game and her swing for a while. I'm suprised she even came back to win, and I think it reflects well on her character ... all other evidence to the contrary.
03.29.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSqueaky
Like, you know, like next semester at Stanford, like you know, I think, you know, that she, like, should, you know, look into, like a debate course. You know?

But she should only do this after she attends a USGA Rules Workshop.

Isn't that what Anika did afer she had the TIO issue at the Women's Open a few years back?
03.29.2010 | Unregistered Commenteropgolfer

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