Wie should think about bringing the trophy home


POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The last time I wrote about Michelle Wie, I labeled her a choker. It didn't sit well with many of you, but when a professional golfer loses from ahead the way she did at the SBS Open it's a fair description — especially after all the previous hype and meltdowns since she turned pro four years ago.

And that adds to the significance of her first LPGA Tour win. The context of her victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational must make it all the sweeter for Wie and her fans worldwide, especially those who stuck by her through the rough times.

She held off some of the world's best to bring it home. She closed, under trying circumstances.

Critics of her erratic play, those questioning her mettle (myself included), must now step back and re-evaluate.

Anyone with eyes and a brain could see she would eventually win at the highest level. But I did not think her first trophy would result from fighting off a pack of the LPGA's elite in the final round as she did Sunday in besting Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Jiyai Shin and Cristie Kerr. I figured it'd be a wire-to-wire win that she dominated.

This is better; this makes us acknowledge that within Wie beats the heart of a competitor, a champion — that she can respond successfully when the heat is on.

We always knew she had the talent; that was never questioned.

What's next?

Let's look back to the North Shore. Wie's victory reminds us there is no LPGA Tour stop on Oahu in 2010, barring some crazy scramble before the schedule comes out in the next few days. Unfortunately, until there is another tourney here our lasting hometown visual of Wie is her final-round foibles last February, allowing Angela Stanford to charge by her.

There aren't a whole lot of sponsors lining up right now to stage golf in Hawaii (Sony isn't even locked up for an extension by the PGA yet). It's just not economically feasible — but Wie's win has to pique some interest.

AT A meeting with IMG's think tank, I wouldn't be the smartest person in the room until everyone else had left for the first round of appletinis. But I bet I'm thinking along the same lines as Wie's handlers here: the Michelle Wie Invitational.

She possesses the charisma, the wherewithal — and now, after her brilliant Solheim Cup performance and Sunday's win, the credibility — to start her own tournament. I bounced it off Matt Hall, the Aloha Section PGA president and director of golf at Turtle Bay.

“;I would think it's somewhere in their strategic plan. It'd be great for Hawaii golf and Michelle,”; he said. “;These events named after people are about legacy. Everyone knows the name Jamie Farr because of his golf tournament, but who under 35 knows he was in 'M*A*S*H'?”;

I can think of no human beings with less in common than Michelle Wie and Jamie Farr. But Wie hosting her own tournament, in Hawaii, makes complete sense.

She'd have no problem attracting sponsors. She'd reconnect with her home state. She'd help the local economy, and charities of her choice. She'd have control.

And if Michelle Wie felt like it, maybe she could invite a few of the boys to play.