Now on the tee, freshly graduated from Stanford University, Michelle Wie.
Let's see what she can do.
We've been watching her since she became a sensation at 13 years old, and we still don't know what to make of this 6-foot-1, 22-year-old phenom-in-waiting. The spotlight has never left her in the past several years and meanwhile, she has won almost nothing. Two LPGA tournaments.That's about it since she turned pro at age 16.
Four years of college cut heavily into Wie's schedule, of course, but when she has played, she has been basically just another tour player.
It is an unfortunate habit of the sports media to rush to judgment, to anoint someone the next great player, the next Nolan Ryan, the best to come along since Tiger Woods, the second coming of John Elway, the future Annika Sorenstam. They did it with this tall girl with the sweet smile.
With Wie, it wasn’t just the media, though.
Fred Couples said, "When you see her hit a golf ballthere's nothing that prepares you for it. It's just the scariest thing you've ever seen."
Arnold Palmer said, "She's probably going to influence the golf scene as much as Tiger, or more. She's going to attract people that even Tiger didn't attract."
Wie fueled the fire from time to time. She said her ultimate goal is to win the Augusta Masters. She also said, "I think I can beat Tiger when I'm 20. It's a life goal."
There has been no way to define Wie's game and her heart. We haven't seen enough of them in a settled, normal environment, a long, steady campaign on the LPGA Tour with no college to interrupt. How strong is she mentally?
How passionate is she about the game?
We'll soon see.
She spent several teenage years as something resembling a circus act, trying to do something that was of no substantial benefit to her, trying to beat the men players in their own tournaments. She went years without winning anything, male or female. Blame it on her advisers, which, it is to be assumed, included her parents.
Her forays into men's golf kept the spotlight focused on her and eventually earned her rich endorsement fees, but she was just banging her head against a wall when she could have been playing against her peers and enjoying some success.
With college behind her, Wie is essentially starting over. After what she's been a part of for years, that has to feel good.
Add my voice to the chorus: You go, girl.