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Michelle Wie's decisions spark flames among media, her fans

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Michelle WieIt's difficult to believe a 15-year-old teenybopper can cause such a great divide in the world's sporting media.

Michelle Wie's calm and serene personality belie her age, but her actions and decisions on and off the golf course are great fodder for those print and broadcast journalists who make a living giving their opinions. She's their dream girl in more ways than one.

Speaking of which, don't dare publicly compliment those long legs and slim, lithe body if you're male. You'll be branded, cursed, tarred, feathered and railroaded, though New York Times columnist Selena Roberts can refer to her as "runway-worthy" and not hear a peep.

But, sexism is the least controversial topic when you're considering Wie, the Hawaiian golf phenom. Wie, still an amateur, has eschewed junior tournaments and the LPGA for the most part, following her dream of competing against the men on the PGA Tour and ultimately playing in the Masters.

There seem to be several camps supporting her, and several sniping at her.

• Hey, this is America, you can do anything you want.

• You can have all the talent in the world, but you should "give back to the game," in this case the ladies game and the LPGA in particular.

• Why is she trying to play with the men when she has yet to win a real, bona-fide women's tournament?

The media seems to be as sharply divided as the rest of the mortals. As if that isn't enough, Wie also has to carry the torch for her race as well as her gender. Not even a junior in high school yet, Wie has been picked by Fortune magazine as one of America's "most influential people of color."

"Right now, Wie probably has no idea she is, like, freaking out everyone who is absolutely polarized by golf's new Tiger-esque symbol of inclusion," Roberts wrote.

Other columnists have compared her to Jackie Robinson.

"Wie's critics want her to stay on her side of professional golf's gender divide," Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote. "They think she's an aberration - an oddity who has been thrust upon the male golf game by overbearing parents, greedy tournament organizers and TV executives ... By pushing herself - and the golf game - for this breakthrough opportunity, Michelle Wie deserves praise, not criticism."

That's fairly typical of columnists and commentators in Wie's camp. Most seem to be siding with Wie, maybe because to disagree with her decisions is to draw the ire of Wie's ferocious fans.

TravelGolf.com's own Jennifer Mario is solidly in the Wie camp, calling on Nancy Lopez to name her to the Solheim Cup team, though Lopez has said it would be unfair to pick her at the exclusion of an LPGA player.

Mario draws valuable comparisons between Wie's performances versus other Solheim possibles. "Wie is an American," Mario wrote. "She is a woman. Any captain who actually wants to win the Cup would want to have Wie on the team."

Chris Baldwin, another TravelGolf.com blogger, has come down on the other side. Wie's fans have responded in lock-step, calling Baldwin, among other things: "loser," "predictable," "juvenile," "a sick, dirty old man," "pathetic," "racist," "sexist," "semi-bald" and "a disgrace to men's society."

Wow. Somehow, I think the classy Wie would not exactly embrace these people as fans. In fact, I think she would get restraining orders. Interesting how people so viciously latch on to their heroes or heroines.

Yours truly, a man of remarkable tact and reason, wrote blogs concerning Wie - quoting another writer's opinions, by the way - and the LPGA in general, and was called: "punk," "chauvinist pig," "drunk," "immoral" and "repulsive."

Girls, I haven't touched alcohol since I went on antibiotics for an ear ache, two days ago. "Immoral?" Probably. "Repulsive?" Well, I just checked the mirror and the phrase "criminally handsome" came to mind.

Woe be to the journalist who doesn't fawn all over Queen Wie's grand plan. With her more vehement fans, anyone who dare dissent on Wie's decisions, especially one of her competitors, is invariably branded as "jealous."

Her fellow rivals are also divided, but there does seem to be a implied accusation of selfishness. "... I hope she does well but I hope she wants to contribute to the LPGA Tour and help us get where we need to go," Christie Kerr told the media.

Morgan PresselMorgan Pressel, a favorite target of Wie wannabees, objects to what she considers the media's glad-handling of Wie.

"I was shocked that there wasn't more talk of Michelle Wie's final round 82 (at the U.S. Women's Open)," Pressel told Sports Illustrated. "I mean, why is that? Or about how when it looked like she was going to make the cut at the John Deere Classic, she played the last four holes in three over par ... Michelle hasn't played a lot of junior golf so she hasn't learned how to finish tournaments."

That's difficult to argue with because - dare I say it - the youngster has shown a tendency to choke with something big on the line. That is hardly unusual for one so young, and she has plenty of time to make up for it. As for her taking her own path, my opinion is divided, which is a rarity for me.

Yes, she should be allowed to pursue her own dreams: it's the American Way. But, all those women golfers who have gone before her paid their dues paving the way for her. Without them, and the LPGA, she wouldn't be in the can't-lose throne from which she now rules. Doesn't she owe it to them, and to those who come after her, to give a little something back?

And don't tell me she brings great PR to the LPGA by playing against the men. Every time she tees it up at an LPGA event, TV ratings soar. You ask the LPGA people, I think they would tell you they'd rather have Michelle on the pink team.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Michelle Wie

    Sky Rutledge wrote on: Oct 3, 2006

    Michelle is a golf prodigy, that's a given.But I think she has dreams that only going to be accomplished after a long and hard struggle which I don't think her parents have prepared her for. For one thing, winning on the LPGA tour is hard enough, ask any of the women trying it right now and they will tell you stories of trials and tribulations for as long as you want to hear them.But to continually butt your head agains't a wall like the PGA tour seems dumb to me. Look at her scores from the last few men's tourmements she's played in. Pathetic I'd say, and what will she learn from getting kicked to the curb like that ?. She needs to hone her skills on the LPGA tour. Learn how to WIN on the LPGA tour, then go take the guys on, by that time she will have a better understanding of what she's dealing with and know how to react accordingly.

    Reply

  • Baldwin's blame of Johnston..

    John Nicodem wrote on: Oct 19, 2005

    Hey, Baldy...your blaming Greg Johnston for Wie's bad drop is a joke. And his position that he should soon be her ex-caddy is just vindictive and wrong. It looks like somebody's trying to stick their nose up someone else's you know what...to help take the heat off of their dumb attempt to make a name for himself. Baldy, why's all your venom being used on Wie's caddy? Got something against Johnston for getting "the" bag? No way...it couldn't be that easy...could it? Greg Johnston DID his job...advising her of the lie and the drop. If anything, she didn't do her's...and she is to blame. Johnston had every right to call out that self serving "reporter" who supposedly has a book coming out in the near future. How convenient is that to suddenly make a quick name for himself? But back to you, Kato. Could it be, that your dream job isn't at TravelGolf.com...but at...just maybe, Sports Illustrated? Hmmmm...if you only knew someone, that would be willing to get you in the door. Only one problem, Hemingway...you would still need talent. You know, that reason why Johnston, had Inkster's bag for all these years...and now has Wie's. It's amazing how jealous losers like you and that "Bum" berger think...simply amazing! You don't even have to write about it...and people can still read you like a book.

    Reply

  • on Wie

    fred wrote on: Aug 19, 2005

    The reason why it is inappropriate to make comments regarding "those long legs and slim, lithe body" is because she's a 15 year old girl. It's that simple. And the reason why so many people flame Chris Baldwin is not because he disagrees with what Michele Wie is doing, but rather it's because he continually makes moronic posts about her.

    Reply

  • Regarding Morgan

    Larry wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

    Morgan Pressel's remarks to S.I. remind me of the High School movie scene where the gum chewing Teen Queen and her court are sitting in the cafeteria mean mouthing a classmate who happens to be walking by.
    All the comments are negative and meant to degrade the passerby.
    According to Morgan, todays question is "Why is Michelle getting all the attention and I'm not getting my share?"
    Answer to Morgan: - - You are.

    Reply

    • RE: Regarding Morgan

      Mr. Small Rain wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

      Morgan should know that Paula Creamer is not getting much attention either. But Paula acts more graciously on the course and in front of media.
      Morgan is too emotional and acting crazy in public especially when she failed. It would be lose lose situation for media and her if public see it. That is, I honestly think, she is not getting much attention.
      I hope she could correct her mistakes and have more success not only on the golf cousre but also in media and public.

      Reply

      • RE: RE: Regarding Morgan

        Larry wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

        Mr. Small Rain
        You are absolutely correct about Paula Creamer. She is rapidly learning (almost overnite) the skills it takes to impress the media. Being gracious is a must.
        I think it's OK for Morgan to be emotional on the course. Women are allowed that privilege. It's what she says afterwards that distances her from the media she is trying to attract.

        Reply

    • RE: Regarding Morgan

      chuck wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

      the simple fact is that Morgan is a smart girl and knows that the money she is going to make in the LPGA will only equal to the pocket money of Ms. Wie, We certainly can understand the fear and frustration.
      But for Chris Baldwin, the only explanation probably is that he is paid to do what he did to Wie.

      Reply

      • RE: RE: Regarding Morgan

        Larry wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

        Chuck,
        I agree with your comments about Chris Baldwin. He is being controversial as a cover-up for lack of creative writing skills.
        Back to Morgan Pressel, I feel she is frustrated because she see's the media's preoccupation with Michelle Wie over other young female golfers. It doesn't seem to make any sense to her.
        Actually, there are firm, absolute, and identifible "reasons" why the media has this perception. Unfortunately, most of these "reasons" have little to do with golf. It boils down to personality characteristics.
        Cristie Kerr, prominent LPGA player, summed it up when she said "She's (Michelle) just got this aura around her - - she is the chosen one".
        Eventually, Morgan will learn to differentiate between those things she can change and those she just has to accept. Then she won't be so upset and life will smile on her.

        Reply

        • RE: RE: RE: Regarding Morgan

          Hoyt Decker wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

          Chuck - Let's face it. Michelle Wie is going to be a world-class pro golfer and she is going to be a fantastically attractive woman, a full-on stunner. Pressel could win 1,000 tournaments and not hope to be as marketable as Wie. Right? Wrong? Don't know -- but America circa 2005 will opt for the phyically attractive every time. Given that she's just 15 that's not a sentiment you're going to hear discussed much outside the locker room. But I don't mention it here in "dirty old man" terms - just pointing out a reality of the situation they're both in.

          Reply

          • RE: RE: RE: RE: Regarding Morgan

            Larry wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

            Hoyt Decker,
            Yes Hoyt, Michelle will probably be a - - fantastically beautiful woman - -.
            But, Michelle Wie, the media "darling" is really a package.
            Part: Potentially beautiful woman.
            Part: World class golfer.
            & Part: Character & personality.
            Believe it or not - - There are many beautiful women in the world. There are even beautiful women golfers. But the unique part of Michelle Wie is her character and personality. No other person can duplicate this. This is what separates all of us from each other and this is what will make her famous now and for years to come.

            Reply

  • Arnie--misinformed...

    Jill wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

    Arnie,
    Apparently, you don't have much knowledge concerning multi-cultural issues.
    Michelle is Asian American, and yes she is carrying the mantle for other Asian Americans. How many successful Asian American golfers are out there ? How many Asian American athletes are out there in the media.
    Very few.
    Unfortunately, there are people like you that assume all Asians are the same no matter where they're from.
    As an American, Michelle has more in common with you than women who are playing for South Korea.

    Reply

    • RE: Arnie--misinformed...

      arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

      Hmmmm...Christina Kim is not Asian American? Funny, last I checked she was a resident of San Jose, California. Michael Chang isn't Asian American? I'll bet that would be news to him. You might want to take another look at the roster of Asian LPGA and amateur players in the U.S. You'll find that many of them are 'Asian-American'.
      You think Michelle Wie is the first Asian American to be successful in sports in America? Do you live in a cave?

      Reply

      • RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

        Jill wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

        Wow Arnie-you named two Asian Americans --with Michelle there are now three that the media has actually focused on.
        What exactly is your quota ?
        How many people of color are actually playing golf ? Not a lot...
        Christina Kim is not covered by the media if at all--(I believe she plays for South Korea as well)
        the fact is Asian Americans are not represented at all in the media and Michelle is a pioneer whether you choose to believe it or not.
        When was the last time Letterman had an Asian American guest on his show before Michelle ? It has been a long time...
        Don't talk about stuff you have no knowledge about-you're just embarassing yourself...

        Reply

        • RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

          arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

          Jill, you arrogant jerk. My comment stands, Michelle Wie is not 'carrying the mantlle for her race' (which by the way 'Asian American' is not a 'race' per se). There have been, and are currrently, plenty of Asian and Asian-American sports figures. If you don't happen to know who they are, you're the ignorant one, not me. Forgive me if I don't have the time to list off for you all the PGA/LPGA/Nationwide/Amateur golfers who are Asian American, not to mention all the Asian Americans competing in all the other sports in the U.S. Didn't happen to notice the Asian-American guy that was on our Walker Cup team, or the Asian-American phenom name Mina Harigae who took Morgan Pressel to the wire in the U.S. Women's Amateur? Maybe you should just open your eyes a bit before you spout off like a know it all.

          Reply

          • RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

            arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

            Oh and one more thing Jillsy-poo, back to your original ignorant response, Grace Park IS Asian American. As are Michelle Kwan, Kristy Yamaguchi, Amy Chow...
            Again forgive me if I don't see Michelle Wie as exactly the Jackie Robinson of the Asian American community.

            Reply

            • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

              jay wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

              Grace park is korean. Not asian american. Get the fact straight.

              Reply

              • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

                Get your facts straight Jay. While she was born in Korea, she grew up in the states and played all her Junior Golf in the U.S. She was AJGA player of the year for multiple years. And she is full time resident of Phoenix, Arizona. Do a little research on some of the national Asian-American organizations and you will find her referred to repeatedly as an 'Asian American' and specifically separated from people like Se Ri Pak who is Asian. This is a stupid distinction to begin with. My point was that Michelle Wie is not carrying the mantle for her race, as many Asian and Asian American athletes have been successful on the highest levels of professional sports, including domination by Asian and Asian American female golfers in both the amateur and pro ranks.

                Reply

                • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                  RioRules wrote on: Aug 20, 2005

                  Hey y'all...
                  Do not forget that the greatest playing golfer in the world is also Asian-American; his name is Tiger Woods.

                  Reply

                • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                  jay wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

                  Arnie. How can you insist grace park is asian american? she was born in korea and she never acquired US citizenship. She has been living in US for quite a long time but if that's the case, Sorenstam should be american too, right?
                  Fact is grace park is korean. not american. and grace is my fellow korean, so it would be funny if you keep insisting grace is asian american.

                  Reply

                  • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                    arnie wrote on: Aug 19, 2005

                    Semantics, you say tomatoe, I say tomato. Interesting that if you do a little research on the most prominent national Asian American organization sites, you will see her referred to as an example of one of the leading Asian AMERICANS in sports, along with many others. I would guess this has something to do with the fact that she has lived more of her life in the US than Korea, graduated from ASU and lives her full time. But hey, we'll call her simply Asian if it makes you feel better. Now let's rant about how Asian-AMERICANS aren't represented enough in society! Then we'll move on the Croatian-Americans, Swedish-Americans, Italian-Americans...

                    Reply

                    • FYI

                      ginny wrote on: Sep 5, 2005

                      actually, "asian-american", by definition, does specifically refer to those american citizens of asian decent. and in fact, being asian and being asian-american are two completely different things (with reference to experiences, relationships with family and friends, culture, etc). i say this from my own experiences, as an asian-american myself, and also after having taken a few courses in asian-american studies in college.
                      so, by definition, grace park is asian, and michelle wie is asian-american. on paper the two might not be so different, but in my opinion there is a big difference. michelle wie represents the US when she plays. grace park represents korea. grace park might be living in the US, but because she doesn't represent the US when she plays and is not an american citizen, she doesn't have the same impact and appeal on other asian-americans and americans as michelle wie does.
                      i'm not going to delve into the other specific argument(s) going on here. just putting in my two cents.

                      Reply

            • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

              Jill wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

              Real mature there arnie!!
              Don't try to speak for people of color again since you don't know anything about it.
              The more you write the more you show your ignorance...
              Yeah--there are just soooo much Asian American representation on the media--so much so that a recent study by UCLA says only 2 percent of people shown in the media are of Asian descent.
              You're the arrogant jerk pretending you know so much about Asian American issues--when you have ZERO authority to talk about it.
              The fact that you can name every Asian American person that the sports media has covered in one paragraph speaks to how sad the situation is.
              Has anyone of these people been on the cover of sports magazines, or signed large contracts with various companies-- Unfortunately NO-- and Michelle Wie can change that.
              Just because you can name a few Asian American athletes doesn't mean there isn't a dearth of minority athlete representation.
              Unfortunately, there are people like you that hold up the few people of color getting media attentin as tokens then pretend no problems exist.

              Reply

              • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

                I just had to re-read your post. You actually wrote "Unfortunately, there are people like you that hold up the few people of color getting media attentin as tokens then pretend no problems exist. "
                WTF? Where in my post did you conclude that? Are you one of those whiny, ultra PC liberals who looks for the negative/racist/sexist angle in everything and jumps to conclusions? Sure seems like it. Where did I say she was a 'token'? Do your brain cells actually work together or are they each doing there own thing in that little ant brain of yours?
                I was praising the Asian Americans that have been successful.

                Reply

                • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                  JIll wrote on: Aug 18, 2005

                  Arnie
                  Its useless to argue with you since you're obviously an angry uneducated person.
                  You are the last person in the world to decide if someone is breaking barriers for their race. Michelle is breaking barriers for her race and her gender.
                  She will be receiving unprecedented deals with sports companies, clothing companies, cosmetics companies etc... when she turns pro. Can you name another Asian Amercan athlete that has that ? No
                  Michelle Kwan and Michael Chang for all their accomplishments never was on the cover of Sports Illustrated or signed any BIG endorsement deals.
                  The fact that you have an Asian American athlete getting Lebron James type attention is a first. Therefore she is a pioneer.
                  Its very telling of you that you misunderstood the "token" comment.
                  You're obviously lived a sheltered life and never got out much.

                  Reply

                  • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                    ang wrote on: Mar 29, 2006

                    serriously people..golf is fun, but dont you think that we put to much emphasis on sports in the US? i think that we all have to remember that she is still a child. to much build up with a chance that she might falter. i think instead of causing a "highschool" rivalry, lets just support the kids playing golf. They are all 'carrying the mantle for ther race'

                    Reply

                  • Oh you really are a whiner

                    arnie wrote on: Aug 19, 2005

                    I have no anger issues lady, except when I'm called a racist or uneducated, which I'm neither. I'll end this debate and let you get back to your little fantasy world.
                    Anyway, I think you convinced me. I now understand that pulling down millions in endorsement dollars for personal gain is really 'carrying the mantle for her race.'

                    Reply

              • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Arnie--misinformed...

                arnie wrote on: Aug 17, 2005

                Classic! I knew this would deteriorate into a PC rant, as just about every Wie supporter on these blogs thinks anyone who says anything less than glowing about her is a racist. Go back and read my original post and what I said you moron.
                My post was not criticising her race or claiming there was not an underrepresentation of minorities in sports. My point was that the media types who claim she's breaking race barriers need to open their eyes and realize that the horse has left the barn. Michelle Wie is promoting one person, herself.

                Reply

  • Good points

    arnie wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

    The most laughable argument made by the Wie enamored media is that she's carrying the mantle for her race. I'm guessing that would probably be news to all the talented Asian women who have been so successful on the LPGA tour the last decade. Quick, somebody call these media idiots and introduce them to the likes of Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Christina Kim, and any other Asian woman on the LPGA tour.

    Reply

  • winning

    Mr. Small Rain wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

    lots of people say that Michelle must learn how to win. I think they made a good point. But...
    I agreeed that winning breeds winning. But it is not necessary to win lots of Amateur titles to win professionals.
    History show that winning can be larned anywhere. Only thing you need is ability to win.
    If you don't believe, please compare the records of Sean O'Hair and recent Amateur Champion(s).
    Mr. Small Rain

    Reply

  • Great article but...

    Cheryl wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

    Well written article Tim.
    However, please do not paint Wie fans with that broad brush, I'm certain most of her fans are not as fanatic as you say.
    Also, you forget to write that many of the angry responses by Wie fans were to counteract extremely irresponsible articles by your colleague Chris Baldwin. I would hope that you would be more fair and take him to task as well.
    Michelle has played in all the LPGA majors and a few other LPGA events.
    while playing in only 3 tournaments with the men. She has played with the women twice more than she has with the men.
    That is hardly ignoring the women's game, and being disrespectful to the LPGA elders.
    I see her as someone just following her dream, its a shame there are jealous and ignorant folks out there that are trying to derail her.

    Reply

    • RE: Great article but...

      tim mcdonald wrote on: Aug 16, 2005

      Cheryl, you make a good point. I doubt all Michelle Wie fans are as belligerent as some of the ones who have written to TravelGolf.

      Reply

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