No one in this office was pulling for Michelle Wie to win the State Farm Classic more than I was. So when I heard the bad news, I was shocked.
I poked fun at her before for not playing well. I refused to believe that she pulled out of last year’s Ginn Tribute because of her wrist.
I didn’t care what excuses she made. I believed it was because she was close to shooting an 88, which would have banned her from the LPGA for the rest of the year. She thought she was too good for the LPGA anyway.
Remember how hard she fought to compete against the men? Remember how that turned out?
I was a huge critic of her. I thought she shouldn’t have tried to push herself too hard. I think she shouldn’t have been — if she was — influenced by all the big endorsement deals. Despite her poor finishes in tournaments, she was still banking from mega-deals from Sony and Nike.
Then I was happy to hear that she was taking time off from competition for her freshman year at Stanford. I thought, good for her.
Get out of Hawai‘i for a while. Stay off the course for a while. Take a break from doing public appearances.
That’s exactly what she did and I was happy for her.
So imagine how pleased I was for her that she was going to open her 2008 season at the Fields Open in Kapolei on the weekend of my birthday.
I wanted her to come back and play some strong golf. Impress me, Miss Michelle Wie!
Although she finished in last place, it was alright. I wasn’t the first to rip her or anything. After all, it was her first tournament back from hiatus. She seemed fine when I saw her at Macy’s at Ala Moana later that night.
She plays a couple tournaments here and there with less than desirable finishes, but she’s still doing fine. Then she goes oversees and finishes sixth at the German Open.
As I closely followed her game, I began to think, that even if she didn’t win these tournaments, she was at least out there and is somewhat more mature now than she ever was in the past.
It could have been college that did it or it could have been self reflection while taking time off. Either way, I was no longer a critic, but a fan.
Let’s not forget how young she was when the cameras started following her.
So when I was sitting at my desk yesterday, beginning to write my “From the Bleachers” column on the amazing and uplifting story that is Greg Norman leading by two strokes over the much younger field at the British Open Championship, imagine my horror when I saw that Wie had been disqualified from the State Farm Classic for failing to immediately sign her scorecard.
Here she was, playing the best golf she’s played all year long and she gets DQ’d because of a minor technicality? I wanted her to win.
She was tied for second along with three other girls by the end of the second round, and I was really pulling for her. I wanted to watch her pull ahead at some point.
She was in sole possession of that second-place slot after yesterday, but she got D’Qd. She left the tent and was immediately tracked down to return to sign her card. That should have made things OK, right?
Wrong. Despite her signature, because she walked outside of the roped area, it was invalid and that was that. But why even bother flagging her down and signing it. Wie said she thought that once she signed her card, everything was fine But it wasn’t. How horrible is that?
And it was an incident that happened on Friday. Why didn’t the LPGA take care of it before she shot 5-under 67?
She’s still only 18 years old. For years she’s been in the spotlight and been highly criticized by people like myself. She finally plays her best golf and this is what happens?
This was bad news.
I felt so bad for her, because as a fan, even if I wanted her to win so badly, you know then that she wanted to win a million times more.
I hope she doesn’t feel ashamed for crying at the podium. I would have done it, too.
Hang in there, Michelle Wie. There will be more tournaments for you to win.
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or email@example.com