Obviously yet mysteriously, golf furnishes its devotees with an intense, many-sided, and abiding pleasure unlike that which any other form of recreation affords. HERBERT WARREN WIND
The trials and tribulations of Michelle Wie along with the appearance of Alexis Thompson prompted some interesting essays over the weekend.
Steve Elling put together the most powerful and entertaining summary of Michelle Wie's troubles while John Paul Newport weighed the pros and cons of the youth movement in women's golf.
Meanwhile Mark Reason in the Sunday Telegraph came out firing at the USGA, though I'm not entirely sure what he wanted them to do, other than not invited the 12-year-old Thompson into the press center.
The girl is portrayed as a smiling, pigtailed Disney character without a care in the world. Maybe she is or maybe she is a disaster waiting to happen, like so many other American sports-girls who were hot-housed at a ridiculously young age. I am just a year younger than Alexis's father Scott and I too have a daughter - but the thought of her playing in the US Women's Open before she is even a teenager makes me feel physically ill.But it's worse than that - some USGA officials are even trying to prompt answers out of the girl in order to promote their sport. For pity's sake, isn't there anyone out there who is going to impose a sensible minimum age, like 16, and put an end to these potentially damaging freak shows?
Does it sound normal to you when Scott Thompson says things like: "I gotta go tune up my daughter." Or when Alexis says: "I like seeing kids my age coming up to me asking for my autograph. It's really cool."
No it's not. It's absurd. Imagine other girls coming up to your 12-year-old daughter in the playground and asking for her autograph. Only Alexis isn't in a playground, because she's schooled at home. The USGA should be ashamed of itself for allowing this nonsense to happen despite the evidence of the Andrea Jaegers and Jennifer Capriatis of this world.
You might have thought that the sad sight of Michelle Wie would alert American officials to their insensitivity. Here is a girl who has been shamelessly marketed and now she is floundering.
Do you all think there should be an age limit for Open qualifyings?
Thanks to reader Mark for spotting Gene Wojiechowski's column defending Wie.
An AP story details 12-year-old Alexis Thompson's impressive opening 39, shortened to nine holes due to a weather delay.
Meanwhile Steve Elling looks at Michelle Wie's opening round and wonders if Stanford isn't the only school Wie will be attending this fall.
Struggling teen prodigy Michelle Wie still needs to pick her course load for the fall semester at Stanford, where she'll enroll in September and live in the school's freshman dormitory. Her roommate hasn't been determined, either.
In her parallel universe, Wie's professional place of residence, not to mention her running mates, remain in flux, too. Her short-term path might even include a humbling destination alongside the great unwashed of golf: LPGA Qualifying School.
After Thursday's crash in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open, the qualifying route seems like the last path to membership, should Wie elect to pursue an LPGA card for next season. Because, at the rate she's going, she might not make another dime in earnings this year.
Wie shot an 11-over 82 and failed to break par for the 21st professional round in succession, then seemed to be somewhat in denial about what had just taken place. While her ailing left wrist felt better, she hit a meager four fairways and four greens at Pine Needles Lodge, spraying the ball all over the Tar Heel State, which is no way to make a cut at an Open.
"It's very frustrating because I know I played better than this," she said. "It's a very fine line between shooting 69 and shooting what I shot today."
Steve Elling files the most entertaining report on Michelle Wie from Pine Needles:
Tuesday on the practice range at the U.S. Women's Open, Michelle Wie bashed away on the range under the watchful eye, and occasionally flippant tongue, of longtime swing coach David Leadbetter. As they left to play nine holes of practice, a local photographer approached and asked Leadbetter for his name. You know, for identification purposes in a newspaper photo caption.This just can't be good...
As the Wie entourage piled into their electric carts and headed toward the 10th tee at Pine Needles Lodge, the lanky Leadbetter turned his head and deadpanned, "Butch Harmon."
What's more, he then repeated the answer as it was dutifully jotted down. Which is where the multiple-choice portion of today's fare comes in, since his smirking response probably means that:
A. Things are so bad in the Wie camp that the noted swing guru no longer wants to be associated with the struggling, 17-year-old prodigy;
B. Butch Harmon got a lot taller, skinnier, grew more hair and developed a foreign accent overnight;
C. The perceived pressure in the Wie camp of late has been so overstated, it's become laughable.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the avalanche of bad publicity Wie has endured over the past year, the answer appears to be C. By most folks' way of reckoning, the strain and suffering should have grown to insufferably high levels, considering her series of athletic and public-relations disasters of the past few months.
But teenagers are nothing if not malleable, right? The million-dollar baby continues to trundle along like a movie-star engenue, blissfully tuning out the bad karma, criticism and sniper fire as though nothing meaningful has happened.
In the eye of Hurricane Michelle, the wind never really blows.
"The worst feeling in life is when no one has any expectations of you," Wie said breezily Tuesday, "when no one expects you to do great things."
Wie said her wrist -- which she says was fractured in a jogging fall over the winter -- is still far from 100 percent, but that she needs to play to regain the lost strength and flexibility, which is the proverbial Catch-22 if ever there was one. Wie has lost distance and remains tentative about over-taxing the injury, claiming she will only hit her driver a few times this week. But after four months on the shelf earlier this year, sitting out this week was not an option.
"It's the U.S. Freaking Open and I'm not going to miss it for anything," she said, drawing laughs.
Stuart Hall reminds us how old we are by writing about Morgan Pressel's return to Pine Needles six years after making her national debut there. Wasn't it just...ah forget it.
Steve DiMeglio writes about the 12-year-old playing this week, Alexis Thompson. And PGATour.com notes that her Nationwide Tour No. 2 on the money list brother, Nicholas, is lending his support this week.
THOMPSON BECOMES YOUNGEST TO EVER QUALIFY
FOR U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Far Hills, N.J. – Twelve-year-old Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., became the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open when she did so Monday to earn a spot in the 156-player field via sectional qualifying for the 2007 championship, which will be played June 28-July 1 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C .
Sixty-eight players were fully exempt into the championship, leaving 87 spaces open in the field for qualifiers. One spot is still being held open for the winner of next week’s LPGA Tour event, should that winner not already be fully exempt into the Women’s Open. The sectional qualifier at the Turtle Bay Club in Kahuku , Hawaii , where three players were competing for one spot, had yet to finish Monday.
Thompson, after recording scores of 72-71 at Heathrow Country Club in Heathrow , Fla. , qualified at the age of 12 years, 4 months and 1 day, besting the previous record of Morgan Pressel, who was 12 years, 11 months and 21 days old when she qualified for the 2001 Women’s Open, which was also conducted at Pine Needles.