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Wie's dad needs serious reality check

Be like Tiger? Try winning women's tournaments first
/ Source: a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/front.htm" linktype="External" resizable="true" status="true" scrollbars="true">The Washington Post</a

Someone needs to tell Michelle Wie's father to shut his yap.

The estimable Mr. Wie, a college professor in Hawaii, goes by the initials B.J., which surely must stand for Bad Judgment. How else to explain his foolish comment this week in Sports Illustrated that his now 15-year-old daughter is not all that interested in emulating the spectacular feats of Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour?

"Michelle has made it clear that she wants to be a full time PGA Tour player," he told the magazine. "Her impression of Annika is that she has extraordinary concentration. But she is not interested in being another Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour. She has been watching Tiger."

Well who hasn't?

We all have grand dreams for our children; my own mother wanted me to be a doctor until that ugly C-minus recorded in tenth grade biology, mostly caused by intense gagging while trying to dissect a frog.

But now it's also time for a reality check in the Wie household. Young Michelle, a nice, polite and prodigiously talented 6-foot teenager, is already a very fine golfer. She can hit the ball a ton and has shown every indication that she has the potential to be a dominant player in women's golf, emphasis on both the potential, and the women.

It's also nice that her proud papa thinks so highly of his daughter's considerable skills that he believes one day she'll also make a comfortable living and maybe even win now and then on the PGA Tour. Maybe it's the distance he lives from the mainland that has made Mr. Wie delusional, or maybe its just paternal pride in seeing his daughter regularly hit drives that travel 300 yards or longer.

But the kid is only 15 years old, and really, what has she really won except a bunch of tournaments in Hawaii and a U.S. women's Public Links championship, arguably the weakest of all the national championships conducted by the USGA?

In her two forays on to the PGA Tour in the Hawaiian Open, she has missed the cut twice. She's played one event on the Nationwide Tour and another on the men's Canadian Tour and also missed the cut in both.

She's played in 20 LPGA events with far more success, including her best finish, second place at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in Honolulu in February. She also has an impressive run of making the cut in 12 straight LPGA events. Last year, she finished fourth in the Kraft Nabisco, the first major of the 2004 season, and 13th in the U.S. Women's Open as a 14-year-old. Great stuff, for a school girl.

Her schedule this year is even more ambitious, as it should be for a teenager with such skills. Under some pressure exerted by the Golden Arch sponsor, the LPGA even shamefully changed the rules to allow her to compete in the McDonalds LPGA Championship to be played at Bulley Rock in Maryland June 9.

She's also entered in the British Women's Open at Royal Birkdale in July, along with sponsor's exemptions into the Evian Masters in France and the Samsung Championship in Palm Desert in October.

On the men's tour, she's been given a sponsor's exemption into the John Deere Classic in Illinois in early July. And with last week's announcement that the men's British Open will allow women to play if they can qualify, many stories were written implying Wie would have a chance to do that if she either wins the event, or finishes high enough to slip in because everyone ahead of her would already be exempt into the St. Andrews field.

Oh please.

Wie almost certainly won't even make the cut. If she does, no way does she get into the top 30. She's good, but just not that good yet. And if she did make the cut, the crush of media and public attention on the weekend would make it almost unbearably difficult for her to stand up to the same sort of pressure Sorenstam faced two years ago at Colonial just trying (and failing) to make the cut.

In short, it's time for B.J. Wie and his very likeable daughter to start getting real. It's also time for her to start beating women in tournaments, which she hasn't done on a national level since the Public Links victory two years ago. She has to learn how to win events against her natural competition before she even thinks about competing against the big boppers on the PGA Tour.

And by the way, the LPGA should provide her with all the fierce competition she could ever want.

Sorenstam, in case you haven't noticed, is Babe Ruth, and getting better than ever. And other multiple major championship winners like Julie Inkster and Se Ri Pak are still very much a presence on a tour filled with promising 20-somethings like Christie Kerr, Laura Ochoa and Christina Kim, among many others.

As for people her own age, she better start whipping up on teenage sensations Paula Creamer (18), Brittany Lincicome (19), Aree Song (19) and Morgan Pressel (16) before she even thinks about trying to compete against Tiger, Vijay, Ernie and Phil, among hundreds of other men.

It's nice to have dreams and goals, and no one should ever tell any athlete not to have the greatest of expectations. But dominating women's golf should be at the very top of Michelle and B.J. Wie's wish list. An occasional foray into the men's game, perhaps even being competitive once in awhile, is certainly an attainable goal.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be like Tiger. But if she can be like Annika, or just a tad better, she'll be the greatest woman golfer ever to play the game. For father and daughter, that ought to sound like a plan