SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- For the between-the-lines linguists out there, this amusing anecdote could be interpreted in any of three ways, really.
|Things have been pretty sour for Michelle Wie as she has progressed in her career. (AP)|
As the Wie entourage piled into their electric carts and headed toward the 10th tee at Pine Needles Lodge, the lanky Leadbetter turned his head and deadpanned, "Butch Harmon."
What's more, he then repeated the answer as it was dutifully jotted down. Which is where the multiple-choice portion of today's fare comes in, since his smirking response probably means that:
A. Things are so bad in the Wie camp that the noted swing guru no longer wants to be associated with the struggling, 17-year-old prodigy;
B. Butch Harmon got a lot taller, skinnier, grew more hair and developed a foreign accent overnight;
C. The perceived pressure in the Wie camp of late has been so overstated, it's become laughable.
Somewhat surprisingly, given the avalanche of bad publicity Wie has endured over the past year, the answer appears to be C. By most folks' way of reckoning, the strain and suffering should have grown to insufferably high levels, considering her series of athletic and public-relations disasters of the past few months.
But teenagers are nothing if not malleable, right? The million-dollar baby continues to trundle along like a movie-star engenue, blissfully tuning out the bad karma, criticism and sniper fire as though nothing meaningful has happened.
In the eye of Hurricane Michelle, the wind never really blows.
"The worst feeling in life is when no one has any expectations of you," Wie said breezily Tuesday, "when no one expects you to do great things."
With apologies to Dickens, most of the past year would be titled "Great Expectorations," because she hasn't done spit. That is, unless you want to include alienating her LPGA constituents, damaging her public reputation or stubbornly continuing to play through a wrist injury and posting awful results.
Ever since Wie withdrew from the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic last summer with heatstroke, her career has mostly been in a dead forward faint. In her past 20 professional rounds, she has failed to break par, which doesn't include her controversial effort three weeks ago at the Ginn Tribute, when she was 14 over and withdrew after 16 holes.
Had she finished with a score of 88 or worse, she would have been blackballed from LPGA events for the rest of the year. Despite her proclamations that her injured left wrist was aching and that she was unaware of the rocket-88 rule, few of her LPGA peers believe it. But then, with Wie, naivete seems to be a consistent theme. These days, it's seemingly how she survives.
Annika Sorenstam, who is more responsible for keeping the LPGA relevant than any other player over the past decade, was the host of the Ginn event. Wie's abrupt decision to withdraw after 16 holes only to show up on a practice range two days later showed a lack of "respect and class," Sorenstam said. Wie at the time offered no olive branch or apology and on Tuesday said she hasn't seen Sorenstam since.