It's almost unfathomable to think that just 364 days ago PGATour.com's Brett Avery was texting us updates on Michelle Wie's U.S. Open qualifying quest. Here we are a year later and Wie's game is a mess, and it's clear that the management of her career is in shambles. Meanwhile, the events of last Thursday raise serious questions about the integrity of her advisors and LPGA Tour officials.
I'll be curious to see how the weekly publications cover the madness that took place last Thursday and whether they will focus on the purported and unprovable rules violation by father B.J. Wie, or if they zero in on the big picture story of her forced withdrawing at the apparent insistence of her advisors, with assistance from the LPGA's COO (and with the LPGA Commissioner on property).
While some stories focused on the possible rules violation, Eric Adelson's ESPN.com account raises plenty of questions about the behavior of folks calling themselves adults. These fine folks essentially told a young woman to stop playing, embellish the truth about an injury, and all so that she would be eligible for the remainder of the year. (Let's forget the silliness of the 88 rule for a moment, because it is a rule nonetheless.)
So let's review.
First, if there were any doubts cast from the LPGA offices about come of Adelson's observations, Golfweek's reliable Beth Ann Baldry reaffirms Adelson's original account after looking at the possible rules violation.
Golfweek's Rex Hoggard opted not to delve into the specifics of the WD and instead focused on why Wie's even playing in the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic, with these tough quotes from Retief Goosen:
“The players in general feel it is not right,” said Goosen, competing this week at the Wales Open. “If she qualifies to play in an event then fine, but there are youngsters and good players coming up who could have taken that spot and broken through. We all know with her playing in the men’s events that she is not going to get anywhere, so I’m not really sure what she is trying to achieve.”
While that's a fair question, it's the annectodal evidence about the events last Thursday that cry out for tough questions regarding the conduct of COO Chris Higgs in giving the appearance of having suggested to her agent the ramifications of a high score, but then claimed he had made a trip out to Wie's group for "no particular reason."
As Ron Green noted, Wie seemed intent on finishing and only stopped at the insistence of her advisors, who appeared to be in close contact with LPGA officials.
And if Green's observations weren't enough, Sal Johnson at GolfObserver noted:
In a interview with Golf Channel's Kay Cockrill [Sp.], Wie said that she was going to ice down both of her wrist and practice in the morning, then try to play next week in the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
As someone who has hurt their wrist playing golf, the last thing you want to do is think about hitting golf balls the next day if you are in any pain at all.
Wie's post round press conference appearance stinks too, not necessarily because of Wie's answers, but again, because of the LPGA's conduct.
Adelson writes of initial questions about her WD:
An LPGA official answered that question for her, saying, "Michelle, thank you for coming in after your withdrawal from the tournament because of your wrist. Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?"
Yet, the opening comment from the LPGA official is not in the transcript because the recording had not "started."
DANA GROSS-RHODE: (Recording started) Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know it felt good when was practicing but, you know, I kind of like tweaked it in the middle of round a little bit. So just taking caution measures, and I know what to work on. The only way to go up from here is up, so I'm feeling pretty good about it.
DANA GROSS-RHODE: And it was the wrist injury, the wrist injury and is what forced the WD?
MICHELLE WIE: Yes.
Love the follow up after you've told her why she withdrew!
Now why is all of this important?
Adults lied because they have a lot riding on Michelle Wie's shoulders and they need her eligible for play the rest of 2007. People lie about much worse things every day that impact lives.
For me, the LPGA Tour is on the cusp of emerging as a strong and exciting tour, but questions are all too often emerging about the Commissioner's office and a disregard for rules, integrity, tradition and basic decency.
It's one thing for the Wie family to have taken the measures they did and disappointing that they would put their daughter up to lying. They will have to live with themselves and the consequences of mismanaging their daughter's career, and Michelle will have her millions to comfort her should this golf thing not work out.
No, I find the LPGA Tour's complicity in the whole affair much more disturbing and potentially damaging to the Tour's future well being to be the real story here.