A Wie Bit of Heat Exhaustion

Talk radio, sports bloggers and sports forums are really taking it to Michelle Wie for withdrawing from the John Deere after suffering heat exhaustion. The general tenor of the “conversation” seems to be that her illness was a convenient excuse—that she withdrew because her poor performance and not because of poor health.

One idiot even suggested that she was pregnant.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Michelle playing in Men’s tournaments. I would much rather see her compete on the LPGA (although the LPGA has not seen fit to grant her a card—a topic for another post). But I don’t believe that we have any evidence that would allow us to stick here with the “quitter” label. Indeed, I think that she has rather gamely played her way around the course in every men’s tournament thus far.

Sitting here just up the road in Michigan, I’m quite ready to believe the heat exhaustion story. I doubt that she has ever experienced anything like a midwestern heat-humidity wave.

Heat exhaustion is a dehydration and body temperature problem. It’s likely that she just didn’t hydrate herself enough to begin with. Lack of liquid, combined with heat and humidity drove her body temperature up. Then, as she got hot, she drank large quantities of liquid. But drinking a large amount in a short period of time can make you sick. I’ve seen high school athletes work out in the heat, then drink cup after cup of water, only to throw it all up immediately.

It’s impossible to know just how much she was suffering. But there is one thing I do know … there is no golf tournament worth risking damage to your health. I am a fanatic golfer and as tough as they come, but in the weather we’re having right now, I won’t play except very early in the morning or at twilight.  Why take chances?

I have my own dehydration story—but one that occurred in the dead of winter. I went on a twenty mile cross country ski trip when I was in college at West Virginia. Thinking more about the cold than dehydration, I didn’t get enough to drink. When we got back to the dorm, I was shivering, so I went to take a hot shower. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor of the shower room and my roommate was running down the hall screaming “He’s dead! John is dead!”

I had passed out, my face hit the tile floor and the right side of my face was open all the way to the cheekbone (I’m Cherokee and have those high cheekbones. The cheekbone had split my face from the inside out.). Blood was everywhere.

The got me to the University hospital and I got stitched up and rehydrated. The docs did a good job because twenty years later, there is only a thin scar line—you wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out.

But the experience has left me extra cautious about proper hydration. Especially in the summer, I make it a point to get plenty of liquid throughout the day—not just when I’m outside and hot.

I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Michelle and hope she feels better soon.

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4 thoughts on “A Wie Bit of Heat Exhaustion”

  1. I also think she was sick. But, she can’t withdraw due to heat. Her credibility gets shot. Trust me, I am a big Wie fan, but when was the last time a male player succumbed to the heat?

    I am more disappointed with the tenor of the reaction of men to Wie’s withdrawal. We have a post on our site which deals with that. Check it out if you have a moment.



  2. I agree with Scott.  I think she was sick, but it does hurt her credibility.  We don’t see male players having this issue at the really hot tournaments—even though as I followed JD around last year in Memphis, I was worried about him, and me too, who is roughly JD size myself.

    However, I don’t know how much credibility she has.  Why is she playing in these Men’s tournaments at 16?  She doesn’t stand any realistic chance to win or even place highly.  She needs to build her experience and maybe win a tournament or five in the LPGA and then show up with the men if she wants.  That isn’t about a girl being ready or not—it is whether a kid is ready or not.  The LPGA is much more friendly to the teenage set (probably more than it should be). 

    A pro-golf career will last 20 years or more, what is the rush to start that career so early, so you can get the nice car and house? 

    Quite frankly, I will be much more excited to see Wie in the PGA tournaments when she has a couple LPGA majors and 5-10 other wins and is dominating there at 20 like Tiger was in the PGA at 26.  Right now the only bet will be whether she can make the cut, and the smart bet is no.

  3. Back Injuries are legitimate!!!  When you are a fat white guy like JD (or me)- rarely are you not playing with a sore back—and then when you add in being sober for nearly six to ten hours before he drops out on a Friday- he really is in pain!

    I think her exhaustion was legitimate, and I am very glad that it was treated promptly and she is fine.  My only point was on the credibility thing, I don’t think she has it to start with—she shouldn’t be playing in the PGA tournaments at 16 with no wins professionally yet.  I will be much more excited to see her play in the PGA when it will be more surprising to see her MISS the cut than make it. 

    Now back to my Gulbis funk.  That is something I am really upset about!

  4. I don’t doubt the head exhaustion experience.  I grew up in the midwest and every athletic boy or boy scout I knew learned the hydration and over watering scenerio, plus lack of salt, the same way.  Ever since, I’m very careful about preparing (not avoiding) heat.  Her coaching should have caught that one.


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