Newest book on Wie gives an insider's look


POSTED: Sunday, July 05, 2009

My dad used to tell me, “;Do something, even if it's wrong.”; I didn't always agree. While there definitely is something to be said for decisiveness, sometimes it's better to let things play out a bit.

And so it is when it comes to opinions about Michelle Wie. Everything with her was so hurried, including the rush to judgment by observers, learned and otherwise.

Did I just refer to a phenomenally gifted 19-year-old athlete in the past tense? Well, call it a Tryonian slip. One point Eric Adelson makes in his fine book about Wie, “;The Sure Thing,”; is that she's not quite washed up. The subtitle is “;The Making and Unmaking of a Golf Phenom,”; but Wie is still quite capable of eventually achieving more than any female golfer in history, and Adelson makes sure to note this.

Believe it or not, there is a middle road with Wie, and this author has found it.

“;I did find myself cheering for her, and I still do,”; Adelson said. “;But I always tried to keep in mind that skeptical readers and supportive readers both needed the truth. Also the emotions are valid on both sides, and the debate about her was always part of the story that I had to report.”;

And report he did. This is no hit-and-run. Adelson is 34, and has been working on this story most of his professional life. He was 25 when he first talked to the 10-year-old Wie, while he was in Hawaii to do a story on June Jones.

ONE FRUSTRATION for many in covering Wie is lack of access. Local reporters recall how enthusiastic her father, B.J., was in peddling Michelle's story in the early years, only to go 180 degrees later. It is clear from the book that Adelson got in close, and while the four magic letters of ESPN (he writes for the magazine) surely helped, I can tell you he did the grunt work. I was there much of the time, and saw him do it. He's like the basketball player who makes the extra pass for a better shot; he always thinks of another question to ask another person to get a deeper understanding and provide a clearer picture.

Sometimes that style will muddle up your assumptions. You know, don't let the truth get in the way of what you want to believe. And that happens all the time in Wie watching, by media, fans, everyone. “;People saw what they wanted to see and looked for evidence to support it,”; Adelson said. “;I got ripped from both fans and haters.”;

MICHELLE'S STORY is a puzzle, some of us with more pieces than others. Adelson has gathered more than most. You will read some things you already know, others you did not. But you will not have seen them pieced together more logically.

B.J. Wie is characterized as meddling (you could even say cowardly, when it came time to fire people), and many with a close-up view won't argue with that. Local youth coaching legend Casey Nakama is among those pulling few, if any, punches.

But, for a parent, what is the line between overbearing and overcaring? Is there such a thing as the latter? That's one of the big-picture issues deftly explored.

Eric Adelson has found the middle road. With Michelle Wie, that doesn't mean waffling or indecision. In “;The Sure Thing,”; the result is a good read resulting from solid reporting from all angles, fair-mindedness and excellent writing.