take a mulligan: why we need Wie; what Wie needs

mulligan, 06 June 2006, Comments Off on take a mulligan: why we need Wie; what Wie needs
Categories: Uncategorized

Having a morning to reflect on what happened yesterday, I want to write about two topics.

First, why we need Wie. Michelle is a 16-year old girl, who is a big dreamer in the best sense of those words. Frankly, I can think of only one other female professional athlete in the world who is trying to compete with the men today. Her name is Danica Patrick — that is, if you count car racing as a sport, which I do. But Danica is the exception. The rule is that women do not compete with the men, not directly in sports or athletic competitions. Despite how talented they are, neither Sheryl Swoopes, nor Serena Williams, nor Mia Hamm attempted to play against the men. The Olympics have separate events for men and women (except for the ice dancing and pairs figure skating).

What Michelle Wie is doing is daring to dream that she can compete against the men. Maybe she won’t succeed, and the odds are probably against her. But we — meaning both men and women — need a person like Michelle to challenge our preconceived notions of how women can fare against the men in sports. As 12-year old Julia Lista said yesterday, “I think it’s a good thing for girls to see that they can do the same thing as the guys.”

Or as BJ Wie said, “I’m very proud of her, a little disappointed, but very proud. I think Michelle demonstrated that it’s possible for a woman to play in a men’s major.” Or as Michelle said, only as a teenage girl can say about her dad, “I think finally my dad said something right. Hopefully, this just shows or motivates people to do what they want to do. I feel a lot more motivated after today.”

Second, what Michelle needs: Help putting — a new putter, putting style, or putting lesson. As I see it, the biggest hurdle for Michelle appears to be her putting — not surprising for a kid from Hawaii, where bermuda is the norm. Yesterday, she missed some awfully short putts that were crucial; while the greens may have been tricky, 30 plus putts per round is not going to cut it, especially when missing from 3 feet and in. As much as I’ve watched her, I haven’t seen Michelle putt “lights out” yet. What impressed me the most about Tiger Woods during his junior days playing in the U.S. Amateur was his ability to make every clutch putt he needed to. That’s the Nicklaus quality that people saw that Tiger had, very early in his career. As of yet, Michelle doesn’t have it. Any maybe she never will, if the Nicklaus or Tiger quality is not something that can be taught or learned by practice. But, hopefully, it is. Chris DiMarco switched to the “claw” putting style, and he’s pretty clutch. Natalie Gulbis switched to the “hammy” putter, and last year she averaged the most birdies on tour. Phil Mickelson used to miss a number of clutch putts when he needed them, but now he seems to have gained a new kind of confidence, especially with short putts following his circle around the hole routine. But then there’s Sergio Garcia, who has yet to really find his putter. Michelle better find hers sooner.


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