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.