Monday, June 05, 2006

Wie Are Young

Let's talk golf. Today Michelle Wie is attempting to become the first woman ever to qualify for the men's U.S. Open championship. She is competing with 150 men for one of the 18 spots that are available for the U.S. Open. There are competing schools of thought about her attempts to qualify for men's tournaments. One view is that she should learn to beat the women before she competes with the men. The other view says that if she's good enough to compete with the men, then she should be able to do so.
There's another school of thought that says women shouldn't be allowed to play on the men's tour, but I won't dignify that one with a response.

It's clear that Michelle has the game to compete with men. She can drive the ball over 300 yards and should only get stronger with time. She has an accomplished short game and while her putting is not top notch, it's good enough to get the job done. So while she has the ability to play with men, the big question is should she? The goal of competing in a sporting event should be to win it. She has yet to do that as a professional. It's obvious from a couple of close calls, that she can not only compete with the women, but excel on the women's tour. The problem is that she has yet to win a women's tournament. She has not shown the mental toughness at this point to close out a tournament. The biggest hole in her resume is a lack of wins.

Playing on the men's tour will provide her with a more challenging obstacle and superior competition. Golf is not necessarily played against your opponents, however. It is a game against the course. Therefore the quality of your competition does not necessarily make you a better player. Playing with the men will certainly not provide her with opportunities to improve her closing skills. Playing longer and more difficult courses will, in theory, improve her game, I don't think that it will improve her mental toughness.

There is no doubt that she brings excitement and coverage to men's tournaments, but what is the cost to her game? I don't think that she is going to be able to win a men's tournament at this point of her career, so what is the point of her current course of action? Is it merely to be the first woman to compete in a major men's championship? If that is the case then I support and applaud her efforts. If she wants to be a trailblazer and show little girls out there that anything is possible, then it's a noble venture.

The thing is that all the talk from her family is about her competing with the men on a full time basis and I really don't see that as a positive. Losing every week on the men's tour does nothing for her. She should play the women's tour and prove her mettle there. It almost seems like she is saying that the women's tour is beneath her. Now she may develop into a player capable of so thoroughly dominating the women's tour that she feels the need to play with men to provide her with a greater challenge, but she is certainly not there yet.

I'm rooting for Michelle today and I hope she makes it into the U.S. Open. I just think that majority of her efforts should be spent on competing against and trying to beat the best women professional players in the world. She really should at least win one on the women's tour before trying to take on the men on a regular basis. There were at least two other teenagers who won on the women's tour last year. She should try to follow their lead before deciding that she can skip such a big step.



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