Michelle Wie doesn’t turn 22 until October. Her lack of LPGA success at such a young age shouldn’t be a big deal, except that she was supposed to reach greatness a few years ago.
Wie became the youngest to qualify for the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at 10 years old and played a LPGA event at 12. She was a media darling, but the success predicted for her hasn’t come yet. Coming into this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, she hasn’t won a major title. She hasn’t finished in the top five of a major since 2006. She has only two career wins on the LPGA Tour.
Time hasn’t run out on Wie, but Yani Tseng’s (Taiwan) success has put her on the spot. Tseng is the best women’s golfer in the world, with four major championships. Tseng and Wie were both born in 1981.
“Obviously you see Yani winning (four majors) by 22,” Wie said. “I think I was the oldest one in my practice round today by a couple years at least.”
The hype machine isn’t fair to all young athletes, but Wie brought some attention on herself by playing in PGA events – most notably skipping the 2008 Women’s British Open to play in a men’s event on a sponsor’s exemption.
Wie seemed on the verge of fulfilling her immense promise in 2006, when she had two third-place finishes and one fifth-place finish in major tournaments. She hasn’t been back to that level since.
“I think obviously I’ve had a lot of ups-and-downs,” Wie said. “But that’s, you know, really how everyone’s career is going. I’ve been proud of myself that I kept with it and kept trying to get better. Every year I feel like I’m getting more and more motivated to win and do better, to become a better player.”
Perhaps being back in Colorado for a U.S. Women’s Open will help. At the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver, Wie was tied for the lead after three rounds before fading in the final round. She was 15 then, and said she learned from the experience. Wie would love to be in the same position going into this Sunday’s final round.
“Obviously I really do want to win a major, and obviously winning a U.S. Open is one of the most important things for me,” Wie said. “So I’m just gonna go out there and give it my all.”