Can a 22-year-old golfer be over the hill?
From the looks of it, Michelle Wie's best days as a golfer - professional or amateur - might already be behind her. Sure, she's still a publicity machine for the LPGA and a well-compensated product endorser, but it's clear that she's no longer the top attraction in women's golf because, well, she's not all that good.
Once upon a time Wie was a golfing prodigy, who as a 14-year-old missed the cut at the PGA Tour's Sony Open by one shot. Right around the time she turned pro in 2005, Wie finished in the top five in five of six women's majors. She was getting exemptions to the men's tours and sponsors lined up to get her to appear in their tournaments. Wie was a star in all of sports, never mind just golf or women's golf, commanding $20 million worth of endorsements with Nike and Sony as well as receiving millions more in appearance fees.
But even early on in her career, there were troubling signs that, despite all the publicity and expectations, Wie had trouble actually winning tournaments. She won one national event as an amateur and so far just two LPGA tournaments - neither one a major. Lately she's barely around for the weekend at LPGA events, having missed three of five cuts already this year, including the last two weeks at the Kia Classic and the first major Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Back in 2004, just at the beginning of all the hype, Wie was set to defend her lone amateur title at the U.S. Women's Public Links when she was stunned in the final by a 15-year-old girl just nine months her elder. In retrospect, it was a foreshadow of things to come and not an upset at all.
That girl is the current world No. 1 and already winner of five majors: Yani Tseng.