HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. – Annika Sorenstam came out and said what a lot of players are thinking about Michelle Wie’s abrupt exit from the Ginn Tribute. Forget the wrist, one of the game’s greatest hit Wie where it really hurts: She questioned her integrity.
“I just feel that there’s a little bit of lack of respect and class just to kind of leave a tournament like that and then come out and practice here, especially being the hostess,” said Sorenstam. “I mean, when I was injured, I wasn’t able to touch golf clubs for weeks. It’s a little funny that you pull out with an injury and then you start grinding. My doctor told me to rest.”
Bravo, Ms. Sorenstam.
Wie needs to hear the truth because it seems like she’s not getting sound advice from her handlers. The 17-year-old claims that if she had finished those last two holes at RiverTowne, she wouldn’t be playing here in the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. Yet she was back at it as early as Saturday, hitting balls at Bulle Rock to prepare for the year’s second major.
Wie’s response to Sorenstam’s criticism: “I mean, well, just I don’t think I need to apologize for anything. It’s just I played bad but that’s what golf is.
It seems young Wie missed the point.
Sorenstam knows what it’s like play with an injury. There’s no doubt she played through pain her first week back at the Tribute, icing her neck down several times a day. Sorenstam has been very forthcoming about the progress of her ruptured discs and took several weeks off to let it heal.
It frustrates players to know that Wie took a spot in last week’s field when she was clearly not ready to play. Her instructor, David Leadbetter, said her Monday practice round at the Ginn Tribute was her second full 18 holes since she injured her left wrist.
The fact that Wie, a non-member, can come out to practice at RiverTowne prior to the rest of the field also doesn’t sit well. LPGA members aren’t allowed at a tournament site until 5 p.m. Sunday before the event.
Wie tried to set the record straight about her injuries in her press conference this afternoon. Before anyone could ask a question, Wie went into a lengthy monologue detailing the left wrist injury that has sidelined her these last few months, saying that she suffered a fracture. As for her right wrist, Wie cited recurring tendonitis.
Wie said she was visiting an aunt in California last February and went for a run at 6:30 a.m. What she didn’t mention, but her publicist confirmed, was that Wie was running backwards when she tripped and fell.
“Obviously I was facing a right hand injury at that time, so being the great athlete that I am, I just tried – I kind of like fell on my left-hand side to protect my right hand, my right wrist,” Wie said.
The Wies decided not to release any specifics about the injury because they were getting conflicting diagnoses from her doctors and didn’t want to “confuse everyone.” She asked that fans and the media be patient with her – “I’m only human.”
Wie also said the bone has completely healed and that doctors say she “won’t hurt it anymore” if she plays. In retrospect, Wie said she should have pulled out of the Ginn Tribute after she “tweaked” her wrist on the 10th hole.
“But as stubborn as I am, I just kept on playing because I wanted to play,” Wie said. “It was my first event; I was like, ‘Hell no, I’m not quitting, I can do better than that.’ ”
When asked if the tour’s ‘88 rule’ was a factor in her decision to withdraw, Wie said “that’s just ridiculous.”
It was clear that Wie and her handlers had rehearsed this part of the interview. But when it came to questions about a conversation Tuesday with LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, Camp Wie looked like a deer in headlights.
The latest development in the Wie saga involves complaints from Wie’s Monday pro-am partners about her performance on the course. Bivens declined to comment on the situation but tour officials acknowledged that the commissioner spoke to Wie’s father, B.J., and manager Greg Nared Tuesday afternoon.
“It was my sixth year out here already and I played in numerous pro-ams and I think it’s ridiculous to make any false accusations about me,” said Wie. “I don’t want to think about it too much right now. I have way too many other things to think about. I have housing applications (to Stanford) to do this week.”
Wie refused to give specifics of the complaint and deferred further questions to Nared. When several reporters approached Nared after the interview, he said “you should talk to the commissioner.”
A columnist from the Baltimore Sun followed Wie’s round Monday morning and described her energy level as “nearly nonexistent.”
Wie’s comments, however, say otherwise.
“I'm so excited to be out here,” she said when asked about her expectations for the week. “I’m so excited to play again. I’m so excited to be in competition again that I’m just going to have fun and I’m just going to be patient out there.”
For Wie’s sake, let’s hope that excitement extends the full 18 this time. Before more people complain.