More On Wie’s Withdrawal

Eric Adelson at ESPN has the full story of Michelle Wie’s failed comeback attempt at the Ginn Tribute. From his account, it’s pretty obvious that she wasn’t ready to play:

Her swing, known the world over for its fluidity, looked cramped and stiff from the opening stroke. She did not release or follow through with confidence or flair. She guided her clubs more than swinging them, and her tee shots sprayed wildly. Wie started on the back nine and saved par on 10, but found water on 11 and snap hooked her drive on 12. She was 3-over after three holes.

Playing partner Alena Sharp said she thought Wie would withdraw at the turn. “She didn’t look like she was there,” Sharp said. “She didn’t focus like usual.”

If she was playing like that from the start, they you have to wonder about the wisdom of having her continue beyond the turn. Or why someone didn’t notice that she wasn’t ready during a practice round, or at the range.

The biggest regret that I’ve had as a golf coach is that one time, I let an injured player talk me into starting her. Not because she played poorly (she actually did pretty well), but because she was risking more permanent injury. But she was a senior; it was her last match; and she begged and whined until I couldn’t take it any more. It turned out well, and she didn’t suffer any ill effects. But she could have.

Adelson also makes it pretty clear to me that Team Wie DID know about the 88 rule—the LPGA rule that says that a non-member who shoots an 88 or higher is banned from tournaments for one year:

The somewhat obscure Rule of 88 states that a nonmember who shoots 88 is forced to withdraw and subsequently banned from LPGA co-sponsored events for the remainder of the calendar season. Wie said later that she never considered the possibility, but soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear. Chris Higgs, the LPGA chief operations officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie’s rope line for “no particular reason.”

Wie’s score climbed to 14-over, and then, after she finished up on the seventh hole, Nared approached and Wie told him she was hurt. Moments later, she announced, “We’re not going to play anymore.”

If there had not been an 88 rule, would Wie have continued, risking further injury? I think she probably would have, and Team Wie would have allowed it.

And there’s the real problem that I have with this whole scenaro: not that she withdrew, but that it took the 88 Rule to get her out of there.

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2 thoughts on “More On Wie’s Withdrawal”

  1. Members of the Tour are not banned if they shoot 88. It’s that non-members (of which Wie is one) are banned from participating in LPGA events if they perform poorly.

    The USGA does a similar thing with people trying out for the US Open. If a player performs poorly in qualifying, they have to jump through extraordinary hurdles to get in again. The same thing with Q School.

  2. I think the idea of this rule is a good one.  The LPGA/PGA is supposed to be the competition of tour professionals and the other aspects, local favorites, the pro-am, sponsor exemptions, are supposed to be secondary.  If you don’t have standards, then can Nike just put in Charles Barkley to play some rounds because he is the size of a billboard for them to get the swoosh on, and he will actually be able to draw the cameras more than Wie because of his fluid swing (I don’t know what kind of fluid, perhaps more like a gel, like slime).

    The problem with the application is appearantly the rule is that you can drop out 2 holes and just 2 over-par strokes away from being banned.  That’s a problem, as no one will now finish a round if they are 14 strokes over. 

    I would normally suggest a board of review, except that won’t work.  Wie (or take Barkley above)- being a Nike pro, could be just awful and the board would never ban a Nike personality.  The rule instead needs to be reworked, and it needs to be something along the lines that once you reach 16 over on a Thursday or Friday even if it is on the 6th hole, you are done for the tournament.  After 2 instances where you dropped or were booted for the 16-over then you are banned for 6 months.  +

    But here is another question—anyone think that if Michelle Wie actually turned in a card which said 89 or 90 (or even 95)—that she would REALLY be banned for the remainder of the year?  Sony and Nike won’t take care of that for her?  I think it possible the LPGA went to the manager and told him to get her out now, because they (the LPGA) did not want to face that question. 

    We know from the story of Phil missing the Pro-Am, that exceptions are made in the PGA if you are one of the top names there, the LPGA doesn’t have a similar hypocritical application of the rules for it’s top faces?


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