Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Does the LPGA Tour Need Michelle Wie? (I Say No.)

Craig DeVrieze is the winner of this post. He is a writer for the Quad City Times...in the Quad Cities. Anyway, his premise is simple: the LPGA Tour lacks star power in Lorena Ochoa, and that the LPGA needs a star like Tiger Woods to be able to hit the next level. His conclusion as to who that star should be: Michelle Wie.

For all these growing list of reasons the tour should be growing in popularity, the LPGA Tour is lacking the one thing that would sincerely move the needle — a Woodsian presence whose aura transcends the game.

It almost had one two years ago — and hopefully will again, even if that might come as unhappy news to certain, bitter boys club members and the giddy, catty, jealous whisperers on LPGA Tour ranges.

Her name is Michelle Wie, of course, and her game remains in disrepair as she sits out this week, having failed to qualify for the Kraft Nabisco field because of poor play that was so roundly, and wrongly, celebrated by many last year.
Now, don't get me wrong. His premise that the LPGA is not as far along as it should be is not wrong. The LPGA Tour faces sponsorship problems all over the map, as has been discussed here and on other sites. His conclusion is what is wrong.

A correction to be made:
Still, much of the resentment Wie encountered on the ladies circuit and elsewhere was owed to the bold path she attempted to blaze by taking on the world’s best men’s golfers in between LPGA Tour appearances.
In part, yes. But, mostly it was because of how Wie and her parents carried themselves at LPGA Tour events. They all acted as though they were above the rules about a bevy of topics. Rule 88 was the straw that broke the back of the situation. Perhaps it was Wie's (or maybe the Wies' ?) visions of male golf grandeur for Michelle that caused that attitude. I do not think, though, that Michelle's lofty goals particularly upset players. It was that she thought that she was above the LPGA Tour, and wanted to use it as a stepping stone into the PGA Tour. She acted that way on Tour and in what she said, not recognizing that she had exactly ZERO LPGA Tour wins.

Interesting that he kind of dismisses what happened at the Kraft Nabisco Championship with such a blanket statement like this:
Plenty of folks have reveled in Wie’s fall from grace, but the LPGA Tour types in that camp aren’t thinking straight because a revamped, history-seeking Wie is the superstar their tour needs so desperately.

If she was on the leaderboard in Rancho Mirage today, much of the world would be watching.

Without her, darned little of the golf world even has taken notice.
Honestly, I feel that the work of Lorena Ochoa has been very significant in promoting the LPGA Tour. The KNC got a lot more attention than it seemingly did in the last several years because of what Ochoa is doing and the comparisons that are so eerie between her and Woods. If those comparisons remain true, then I think Ochoa is exactly what Craig is calling for in the first place.

1 comment:

The Constructivist said...

He's not alone. Basically what I hear many in the golf media saying is that it's Wie or no one. Hats off to Annika and Lorena for what they've accomplished over the years, but I think an even bigger problem for the media lately than the Wie-obsession is their lack of awareness of the rest of the tour. The folks at Seoul Sisters will point out that even when Annika was pulling away from the field, the media's "Big 4" (Annika, Inkster, Webb, Pak) systematically downplayed the last one on that list. How about today, where players like Mi Hyun Kim, Jeong Jang, Hee-Won Han, Seon Hwa Lee, and Jee Young Lee are shaping up to be Ochoa's biggest rivals--along with the usual media suspects of Creamer, Pettersen, Webb, Pressel, and Gulbis. I've been arguing for over a year that the golf media lacks the ability and imagination to cover a "Big 20" on the LPGA, much less the inclination. It really is going to be up to LPGA bloggers to fill that void for the foreseeable future. Sad.