Pressel full of surprises
I STILL can't quite put my finger on what I was expecting, but Morgan Pressel was nothing of the sort. She was, instead, a pleasant surprise. The kind of pleasant surprise that leaves you walking away shaking your head and grinning an airy grin.
She was really, really ... nice.
Now, I'm befuddled as to why something like that should sneak up on you, why that would be a shock when meeting someone for the first time. It shouldn't be. I don't know what I was expecting. Don't know why I was so surprised. Obviously, she wasn't going to smack me with a 7-iron (I go down easy; she wouldn't have needed that much club).
But Pressel, another teenage golf phenom, the would-be rival to Michelle Wie, had always been portrayed as so driven and intense. And after having won so much and done so much, the impression was that maybe she was even a little combative, and jealous, when it came to all the attention and credit and opportunity that had been given to Michelle. She was a fighter. Our Dave Reardon put it best: "She's Pete Rose."
And, really, given the circumstances, I hadn't even begrudged her any of those competitive feelings. Who wouldn't have a chip on her shoulder, in her place?
And yet, whatever I was ready for, she wasn't anything close.
She was just ... so nice.
Not professional, which is all you can ask.
No, I wouldn't describe it as any of those things.
She surprised the heck out of me. She was nice.
And a lot of people saw it, who walked with Morgan and Michelle and Sherri Turner on Saturday, during the Fields Open in Hawaii's final round. They felt something from her, somehow. She won over so many. Wie fans are fiercely protective of their girl, and Pressel had already been cast as the villain. How dare anyone DARE challenge Michelle!
PRESSEL'S every comment was deemed arrogant, her every emotion out of line.
There was already a rivalry for many fans, even if the two had been in the same field only a few times.
But she won them over, Saturday. She surprised them. Whatever they were expecting, she wasn't it.
As the tournament wore on, as she played with Wie that final day, people found themselves shaking their heads, grinning airy grins.
It turned out they liked her. What a pleasant surprise.
Maybe it had something to do with Wie beating her, I don't know. Maybe she became an underdog before everyone's eyes. Maybe the way she carried herself felt just right. But those who were out there, who saw her, they liked her.
And as they walked up 18, Wie awash in an enormous ovation after hitting a wonderful shot, they yelled for her, too. They cheered her, and called her name.
What a head-shaking, pleasant surprise.
She had not played well, and she would break down and cry after leaving the 18th green.
And even then, she was surprisingly nice.
It is my theory that this might have been her undoing Saturday. She'd played one of her worst rounds -- and when 1 under is bad, you know you're doing OK. After having been cast as the heavy, the hostile competitor, Pressel chose instead to be Michelle Wie's friend. She made an effort, you could tell. I wonder if she was so nice she may have lost her edge.
Pressel is a fighter. She's Pete Rose, she's attitude and grit. She isn't 6-foot-2 with a perfect swing. She is all edge, and if she's lost that, she's lost (or, you know, she's tied for 11th in a major-league pro event).
As those tears poured down her face, she knew something was missing.
It will be interesting to see, the next time she and Wie meet.
In any case she has a few new fans here. Fans who didn't think they would like her. But what a pleasant surprise.