Congratulations Michelle Wie

The much maligned Michelle Wie won her first LPGA tournament at the weekend. She is still only 20. Let us hope that she has now overcome the mismanagement of her early career and can have more success.

20, eh? Whew!

Good for her. She seems to have the skills, but was having a horrible time handling the pressure. Maybe this was what she needed to break through and start winning.

The Asian Anna Kournikova of golf?

Not any more now that she’s won something. But I dig the name, especially if you drop the Anna. “Asian Kournikova.”

Good for her. I remember railing at her mishandling on these boards 6 years ago. Pitting a 13 year old girl against full grown men is about as retarded as it gets.

In unrelated news, the equally hyped tennis player Donald Young is still languishing at about 200 in the world rankings and seems unable to make a breakthrough. There is a real lesson in these two kids and how not to manage a prodigy’s career.

While I mostly think he’s a complete jerk, it looks like Richard Williams did something right with Venus and Serena.

I was reading the stats. She is 6th in driving with an average of 268.1. That is not how she was advertised. She was supposed to be a 300 yard hitter. She has gone through 9 caddies since her dad went off her bag. I see mismanagement as one the reasons for her troubles.

Possibly the dumbest title ever hung on someone.

She won a tournament before she could drink a beer, ferchrissakes.

Did her driving accuracy improve as a result?

Hasn’t Wie already made tens of millions of dollars through endorsements? I have always thought it rather strange when people talk about her career being mismanaged when she has already made money beyond the dreams of most professional athletes before she is 20. I would say she has been managed very cannily indeed. In fact given her relative lack of achievement, her career is probably one of the great case studies in sports marketing.

Two things:

  1. Most people are talking about her golf game being mismanaged. If this is the case, then…

  2. The endorsements were less than they could have possibly been.

She had a bunch of endorsements when she started. She is rich. That part of her career was managed fine. But whoever thought she should go to the mens tour and compete did her a disservice. She was exposed. She did not hit as far as advertised nor did she score as well. It made her a bit of a joke and hurt the womens game. Except for driving distance, she appears on no top 10 performance stats.

Driving Distance is the least accurate stat in golf.

For one thing, only two holes are used for measuring distance.

And depending on the holes used, driver might not be the prudent club choice for Michelle Wie. It could bring bunkers into play and or force an awkward yardage into a par 4.

Many of the LPGA courses are setup for the typical LPGAer, one that hits it accurately and at about 250 yds. The fairways are typically less than 30 yds wide and as a result.

However, I do think Michelle swing is tighter, and not as powerful as it was 4 or 5 years ago. At the risk of being labeled a misogynist, her distance may be a result woman’s anatomy, moreso than she was a young teenager.

Anyways, I am glad to see her win. The LPGA is floundering into a deep abyss. Maybe her win can help their tour. Most of the LPGA tournaments are being won by non-Americans, mostly Asians. In fact an American hadn’t won on that tour since May until this past weekend. Wie is not gathering any backers on the tour. Many think think she is a spoiled brat with special rules.

I haven’t followed the Wie story much but if I am not mistaken some of the criticism has been about choices like entering men’s tournaments instead of focusing on her game. But such publicity stunts were essential to getting the endorsements. It’s unlikely that she would have made so much money so fast by lying low and improving her golf. And given that she has probably made more money than any female golfer and the vast majority of male golfers, it seems a pretty smart career choice. Basically her handlers realized that they had a publicity sensation and could make a lot of money very quickly regardless of her results and they went for it with great success. Media sensations are often ephemeral in nature so if Wie had focussed on her golf she may well have lost her opportunity even if her actual results were better.

     The whole thing doesn't speak very well for the media/celebrity/sponsorship complex but you can't blame the Wie people for grabbing their opportunity.

Key Stats for Wie

GIR 22nd
Putting T41
Driving Accuracy 142
Sand Save 44
Putts per GIR T5
Scoring 9th

Scoring is the most important stat, but it is that is uncontrollable because it is a result of the rest of the stats. You improve one part of your game, and all other factor being equal, your scoring will get better.

That article is almost 2.5 years old.

What is the difference. I have read similar articles for years.

What’s the difference?

In the fall of 2008, Michelle Wie wnet through two stages of Q-school to qualify for the LPGA tour. She earned her playing privileges, rather than it be given ot her. She played on the 2009 Solheim Cup team and bonded with the other Americans. Did you see the joy of Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome and Paula Creamer when they doused her with beer and champagne? Everyone was genuinely happy. Even the ice princess Suzann Pettersen congratulated Wie on Twitter.

The LPGA has been a tailspin, not only do I think they like Wie, I think they realize that Wie can help the floundering tour that has lost a dozen or so tournaments in the last few years.