Monday, June 23, 2014

Michelle Wie: Her Mark on Women's and Men's Golf...

I want to talk about something I'm sure all American sports fans were eager to discuss today: the Women's US Open at Pinehurst, Number 2, right? 
Congratulations to Michelle Wie on her first US Open championship and LPGA major title.
No, I know what everyone carried in their hearts to the proverbial water cooler this morning. The tie between the US and Portugal in men's soccer action at the World Cup in Rio de Janiero left folks...Disappointed? Deflated? Cautiously optimistic? Enter in your sentiment here; this is what Sports talk radio is made of!

This World Cup has been touted as one of the most exciting with upsets, innumerable goals and more. And the US is in good shape with one win in their "group of death." But that goal by Varela in the last 20 seconds....

Regardless, what took place on the same course as the Men's US Open final just one week prior, should not be dismissed. And a good reason is because its victor, Michelle Wie, has made her mark on both the women's and the men's game of golf. 
 The observed similarity of her swing to that of Els, led some in the sports media to call her The Big Wiesy, a play on Els' nickname ofThe Big Easy
Wie captured her first Major on the LPGA on Sunday June 22, by shooting an even par 70. is A native of Hawaii and a Punahou alum—the alma mater of President Obama—Wie is one of the more popular figures in women's golf.  She starting playing golf professionally weeks before her 16th birthday in 2005. 

What is particularly interesting to me about this win is she held off her opponent Stacy Lewis by one stroke; Lewis shot a 66 on the day with 8 birdies. This is the most birdies made by a man or woman on the final round of the Open. Furthermore, to win, Wie made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. She did this one hole after shooting a double boogie on the 16th. Way to flush it.

At 6'0", Wie—a Korean American—"was both criticized and touted for competing against the men on the PGA Tour while still in high school. She talked about wanting to play in the Masters." I don't blame her. (

But Wie's golf numbers didn't add up. On the men's tour, she didn't make the cut in several tournaments, with disappointing performances, failing to break par at times, and withdrawing for a different reasons. 

I should dig deep to find out what she did to regroup. Did she amend her swing? Did she work with a sports psychologist flex her mental focus? Or did she just grow up? 
Wie completed her studies at Stanford University and graduated in the Spring of 2012. Because she had turned pro prior to college, she was unable to play for the Cardinal. 

For me, "The Big Wiesy" is worth discussing because I appreciate playing with the boys, but at the end of the day, I want to play my own game. Women do play golf differently, and that's not a bad thing. Golf isn't limited to one style of play—long drives and power hitting all day. No, the game requires finesse and precision too. A forceful hit followed by a soft touch. Men's and women's play offers both.

I'm not convinced Wie aimed to equalize the playing field, or in this case the red with the white (or blue or black) tees by showing up on the PGA Tour, but she made us follow the endeavor and raise questions in doing so. And she won't be the last one do so. For example, as reported on the Bleacher Report,  "College football may see its first every female defensive back. Shelby Osborne from Jeffersonville High School in Indiana has committed to play defensive back at Campbellsville, a NAIA program.  As my two nieces say: "GFG." Go for it girl. 

Would it be more exciting if she won on the men's tour? Maybe. But for the time being, I will enjoy her victory on the best stage in America for women's golf. She does too.
"I think that without your downs, without the hardship, I don't think you appreciate the ups and much as you do," Wie said, the gleaming trophy at her side. "I think the fact that I struggled so much, the fact that I kind of went through a hard period of my life, the fact that this trophy is right next to me, it means so much more to me than it ever would have when I was 15."

In 2003, Arnold Palmer stated that Wie is "probably going to influence the golfing scence as much as Tiger, or more. She's going to attract people that even Tiger didn't attract, young people, both boys and girls, and families." Looking at that quote in 2014 is quite telling, isn't it? No one would have guessed the story that has unfolded for both golfers. Wie just opened a new chapter. And it's one that didn't result in a tie, but a very sweet win.

Photo Credits
Wie wins
With EE

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