Weeks into her 'indefinite' break from golf, Women & Golf ask: Was Michelle Wie pushed too far when she was parachuted on to the men’s tour and has it taken its physical toll now?
By Charlotte Ibbetson
This year has been one of Wie-less majors, with the superstar making headlines away from the course more than she made them on it. Returning to the game at the start of the year after wrist surgery in October 2018, Wie missed the cut at the ANA Inspiration in April and was forced to pull out of the US Women’s Open in May. After rounds of 84 and 82, Wie withdrew from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship because of the same wrist injury, and shortly after announced that she’d be taking a break from golf ‘indefinitely’.
Wie had barely made it on the women’s tour before she was thrust into an almighty spotlight on the men’s. At just 14, she became a teenage novelty act and a sponsor’s dream. She never really competed with the men, not to the extent that she ever challenged anyone at the top, but she pulled in crowds and made big headlines. In truth, her management team turned an immensely talented young woman into a circus act.
We’ll never really know if Wie would have been any better off had she not been paraded around as she was, but there’s no doubt that it would have taken a physical toll on her and she’s paying the price now – in fact, we all are. Wie shook up every outdated stereotype of women’s golf. She bought the game to the fore, but she had the power to transform it, to win big and win regularly – she just wasn’t really given the chance. Any momentum she had was interrupted by competing with the men, where just making the cut was a real feat. With her achievements constantly dwarfed by her media profile, it’s no wonder that her game, and now her health, deteriorated.
In 2009 Julie Inkster said, "she needs to learn how to win, and the more she wins, the better for her and the better for the rest of us. With Annika [Sorenstam] gone we need as much star power as possible, and she is a phenomenal talent."
Ten years on and we’re realising we should have listened. Was Wie pushed so far by her team that made an exceptional golfer became unexceptional?
Image credit: Streeter Lecka/PGA of America / David Cannon / Getty Images