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November 17, 2009 7:08 AM

The day the LPGA went Wie!!!

wie wins.jpgIf you were listening closely through the clatter of all this football, basketball and hockey, you might have heard some noise coming from, of all places, the normally quiet Ladies Professional Golf Association this weekend.

The sound was as piercing and brief as the headline it produced: Wie wins.

How this noise reverberates through the fickle golf world could have just about everything to do with the fortunes of a struggling tour that is losing tournaments and cash faster than Charles Barkley in a casino. 

Even though it seems like Michelle Wie has been around since at least the last recession, she is only 20. With so much already behind her, it suddenly looks like everything is in front of her again.
Wie's victory in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico Sunday was her first as a pro, and first of any kind in seven years.

What happened to Wie was right out of the old, sad textbook written, but never read, by parents who choose to live vicariously through their talented children. They push their kids on the fast road to fortune and fame, never bothering to look both ways for what looks a lot like abuse.

For much of her teens, Wie was put on display like some circus animal.
"See the 6-foot, teen-age phenom belt the ball like the big guys do!"

Wie was only 14 when she teed it up with the men in the PGA Tour's Sony Open in her home state of Hawaii. Read that sentence again. What were you doing when you were 14?

Incredibly, a second-round 68 actually placed her one stroke off the cut in that tournament.
It turns out this was probably the worst thing that could have happened to her, as it only encouraged her parents to add another ring or two to that circus they had created for themselves and their child.

Sure, money followed, loads of it, actually. Millions, it's been reported.

A lot of good millions will do you, though, when you are becoming dangerously close to being spent.

Wie's game and reputation started to deteriorate as she rocketed through her teen-age years.
She went pro at 16, and took every opportunity to play with the guys. Her stated goal was to win, but everybody knew this novelty was all about making the cut. Oh, and lots and lots of sponsorship money.

In eight  tournaments with the guys she never did play the weekend, nor did she win a single thing on the LPGA Tour over that time.

That last part drew the ire of many of her fellow competitors on the LPGA Tour. Sure, jealously probably had as much to do with their dislike of Wie and her wobbly career path as anything, but facts are facts, and Wie hadn't even proven she could beat them, much less the guys.     

Now 18, Wie developed some serious aches and pains, which resulted in a flaw to her beautiful swing, which was once called the best in golf by none other than Johnny Miller.
Wie's professional career was suddenly careening off the road to stardom.

Thankfully, her personal life was in repair.

It started when she went back to college and became a kid again.
She enrolled in Stanford, where Sports Illustrated's Alan Shipnick reports, "She has a 3.4 GPA and can often be found chilling in her dorm room with a large, eclectic group of friends."

Now into her third year at the school, Wie is chasing a communications degree.

There would be more than a bucketful of irony to that bit of news, golf fans, because nothing would speak to the new-found health of the LPGA Tour like a resurgent, happy Michelle Wie.

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