August 17, 2006
Written by C.N.
Now that Michelle Wie is a professional, expectations about her performance are sky-high. She has generally played well but has yet to win a tournament. But what’s attracted a lot of attention recently is a series of controversies surrounding her, including a disqualification, a two-stroke penalty at the recent British Open, and now, the unceremonious firing of her caddie. Recently, both SportsLine and Sports Illustrated take her to task for her “unprofessional” behavior:
She has pocketed nearly $720,000 in seven LPGA starts this year, finishing third, fifth and third in the first three majors. But the 6-foot-1 prodigy hasn’t been able to close the deal, and the excuses from the Wie camp have been piling up high. Bad luck. Bad bounces. A bee sting. Heat exhaustion. Too much golf. Too little golf. It’s always something.
LPGA observers have suspected it was only a matter of time before someone — besides Michelle — would be held accountable. It would either be her swing coach, David Leadbetter, or her putting coach, Kelly Leadbetter. Or Johnston [her caddie that she just fired].
One thing is certain: The Wies, despite an increasingly unsavory reputation of treating people like, well, jackals, won’t have any problem finding a replacement. “The upside is too great,” one veteran looper told me when asked if he’d drop his current pro for Wie.
Wanted: caddie. Pay: great. Thick skin a must. Eventual termination: certain. On your way out the door, don’t expect a handshake or a pat on the back.
Are people jumping off the Michelle Wie bandwagon too early? Or does Michelle (or more specifically, her parents) deserve some blame? At this point, I’m willing to chalk these controversies up to being a rookie and inexperience with the game and its norms of behavior. Let us remember that she is all of 16 years old. Her parents are also new to the game too and like Michelle, will hopefully settle into their role with time.
The one thing that I would say is a little disappointing about both the SportsLine and Sports Illustrated articles is that while their criticism of Michelle and her parents seems to be fair, I can’t help but detect a little “Dragon Lady” tone to them, that as an Asian woman, Michelle is more likely to act in an arrogant or selfish way, although I concede that neither article ever brought up her Asian identity.
I may be overreacting, but I hope everyone involved keeps their comments focused on the actual incidents in question, not on her racial/ethnic identity.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Michelle Wie Criticisms" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/08/michelle-wie-criticisms/> ().
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