Apr
17
2009
KLPGA Lets Michelle Wie Off Easy For Withdrawing From Pro-Am
By Stephanie Wei under General

Teen prodigy Michelle Wie played in the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (KLPGA) Lotte Mart Open on a sponsor’s exemption from the title sponsor.

I hear that she was paid an exorbitant amount of money (upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars) just for her to compete. Travel expenses for her entourage – her parents, road manager, personal trainer, and caddy were also covered. They received nothing short of first-class hospitality. They each had a chauffeur ushering them around town, no less! Not too shabby. How do I get on Wie’s payroll?! Does she need a ghost-blogger/tweeter?

But, I digress. No good deal is complete without unnecessary drama.

In accordance with KLPGA rules, caddies are not allowed to accompany their players during the Pro-Am because it distracts the players from schmoozing interacting with the sponsors. No big deal, right? I don’t think it’s too much to ask from the players to indulge the sponsors for a few hours in return for their generous patronage. Particularly in this case when the sponsor paid Wie to simply play in the tournament.

Unfortunately, Wie panicked when she found out about the rule. Earlier in the week, Team Wie (I assume her parents and/or manager) approached the President of Lotte Mart and asked him to speak to the KLPGA officials to demand that Wie’s caddy accompany her. The KLPGA allegedly agreed to Lotte Mart’s request. But, there was a miscommunication. On Tuesday, the day of the Pro-Am, the KLPGA put their foot down and said Michelle would have to abide by the rules. Rules are rules. Right?

Wie withdrew from the Pro-Am mere minutes before her tee-time.

And, to my understanding, on most Professional Golf Tours, players scheduled to play in the Pro-Am can’t withdraw unless they have a valid reason, like they’re deathly ill. (They get one free pass on the LPGA.) If they do, they’re usually disqualified from the tournament or penalized. Several years ago at a KLPGA event, Soo Yun Kang missed a Pro-Am and was penalized a large sum of money.

I’m sure the outcome wasn’t what Wie intended. Sure, she got anxious. But, I doubt that she personally made the huge fuss, leading to her last minute withdrawal. However, this isn’t the the first time. Should she continue to be coddled and granted special treatment?

I hear that Wie’s parents have a tight grip over her and her career. That’s understandable, she’s only 19. Then again, look at how male teen phenoms like Rory Mcilroy, Ryo Ishikawa and Danny Kim handle themselves – like professionals.

Michelle has to grow up at some point. It sounds like her parents should loosen the reigns a little. She seems like a really sweet girl who also happens to be an extremely talented golfer. I hope misunderstandings like this are avoided in the future. Or else, Michelle might encounter more obstacles and distractions that could hold her back from reaching her full potential as a professional golfer. And, that would just be a shame.