Wie off to good start, but will it be enough?


POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

Another one bites the dust.

That's the only conclusion we can come to with the news of SBS—Korea's largest TV network—ending its sponsorship agreement with the LPGA tour. Simply put, there is no SBS Open at Turtle Bay without SBS.

The LPGA announced a new hookup with JoongAng Broadcasting, which takes SBS out of the picture. Not coincidentally, the tour also gave word of a new event to be sponsored by JBC—in Southern California.

It's conceivable an event could be added on either side of the Kapalua Classic in October in future years. But don't count on it.

Hawaii has lost all these sports events in just the past few months: Pro Bowl, Hula Bowl, Fields Open and the Turtle Bay Champions event.

The Hula Bowl was on life support the past 10 years, anyway, and just kind of withered away after its significance died with the explosion of mainland all-star games; so a revival in conjunction with the Pro Bowl is intriguing.

Still there really is no reason why a deal shouldn't have been done already for the Pro Bowl. Yes, the NFL plays hardball, but it's an event too fiscally important for the state to mess around with. Get it done already.

As for golf, Paul Arnett pointed out that losing another women's tournament here is terrible timing for Michelle Wie and her fans. Finally, she's earned some credibility as a card-carrying tour member, and the tee box is pulled out from under her.

So, if you want to see her play on Oahu, you'd better show up at Turtle Bay today or tomorrow. After that, the way things are looking, you'll have to settle for Wii golf instead of Wie golf.

We've seen her string together birdies like the three-in-a-row at the end of yesterday's round many times. Her two bogeys on the front nine resulted from an off-the-mark driver. Her demeanor afterward suggested a player happy with the overall performance of 6-under 66, but feeling like she left a few strokes out there.

We've also seen her put together some excellent rounds back-to-back, and in events as big as the U.S. Open. Those often resulted in single-digit placings in majors, when she was a teenager.

Some folks seem to forget how close she came to winning LPGA events (and making the cut at men's) before she hurt her wrists.

But for someone given so much—in talent, money, publicity and exceptions—nothing short of wins will do (and even then many of the critics will find stuff to pick at).

Sometimes it seems unfair, but that's just the way it is for Wie, who hasn't always benefited herself in the way she's reacted to criticism.

It will take more than an LPGA Tour card to validate Michelle Wie. It will take tournament victories.

Yesterday she positioned herself well to be in the hunt for one in what could be her last chance, at least for a while, on Oahu.

Washed up at 19? Hardly. Look at the leaderboard.

A new beginning? If she wants to view it as such, great. But that doesn't mean the rest of the golf world does.