Just When We Thought Michelle Wie Was Beginning to Act Like a Real Pro…
By Stephanie Wei under General

While I was away on my enlightening little research trip and cut off from the real world last weekend, I missed the greatest reality show ever to air on the Golf Channel — Michelle Wie Unplugged.

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard what happened. But a quick recap via the AP:

Michelle Wie was penalized two strokes for grounding her club in a hazard after hitting out of the water on the 11th hole in the final round of the Kia Classic at La Costa on Sunday.

Wie was notified of the penalty by LPGA rules official Doug Brecht a few holes later. At the time, she was five strokes behind leader Hee Kyung Seo.

With her right foot in the water, Wie hit her submerged ball in a spray of water, with the ball moving only a few inches onto the rough. She then let her club touch the ground, giving her a double-bogey 7.

Wie ended up with a 72 to tie for fifth at 4 under.

“It just doesn’t seem right,” Wie told Brecht on the course.

After her round, Wie went to a TV truck to review video with officials. The issue played out for 15 minutes live on Golf Channel.

Wie violated rule 13-4b by touching her club in the hazard and the two-stroke penalty cost her a T2 finish and about $89,000. While money probably wasn’t a concern of hers, a runner-up title wouldn’t have been bad to add to her resume. But it was Wie’s behavior that incited a controversial discussion. Mostly because of her troubled history with well-publicized, infamous run-ins with the rules. You know, like grounding her club in a bunker at the 2006 British Open or forgetting to sign her scorecard, etc. After being blasted by the media and fans for years, public opinion was turning in her favor after playing the heroine at last summer’s Solheim Cup and (finally) winning as a professional last October.

Unfortunately, the way she handled herself has given another reason for people to attack her. I’ll admit I have a soft spot for her, so I’m not going to call out the special forces. And while I’d hate to call her a spoiled brat, she definitely acted like one. (I would say it sucked that it was aired for the world to see, but everyone said it was must-see TV.) If I were in the situation, I’d probably grovel a little bit. But from what I’ve seen and what I’m told, she made the wrong call to drag on the discussion with the officials. Her argument was pretty ridiculous and weak, too:

I thought it looked differently than — they interpreted it differently than what I felt. I knew that I did ground the club, that was a fact, but that was the only fact.
I did call for a ruling; I knew I did that, but at the same time I knew that I felt off-balance. I closed my eyes when I hit the shot and I ground my club so I wouldn’t fall into the water. I was wearing a white skirt.

Oh no, please tell me she didn’t actually say that. But she did. Wie, who a few years ago was clueless about the rules, appears to have taken up the advice to read the Rules of Golf. So while she was in the moment, she accidentally grounded her club. When she realized afterward that it was a violation, she recalled that she could use the “I was losing my balance and didn’t want to fall” excuse. It’s like she was taking what she had learned in a philosophy class at Stanford and translating it to the situation. (Obviously I’m only speculating because I have no idea what she was thinking or feeling.) While it’s one thing to use the rules to your advantage with integrity, it’s another to come up with an afterthought and use it as an excuse, violating the spirit of the game.

She made a mistake. It happens. But she shouldn’t have tirelessly squabbled with officials to win a battle she was going to lose, anyway. Unfortunately, she lost some goodwill points on Sunday and hasn’t grown up as much as we’d thought. At least in this scenario. Anyway, moving on!

One last thing — despite my efforts, I couldn’t find footage of what I’m told was a painful, drawn-out whinefest by Wie in the trailer. Which begs the very serious question: Why the hell hasn’t anyone put it on YouTube yet? Thanks to Lawrence Donegan’s blog, I was directed to a link that had a small segment of riveting coverage. But come on, SOMEONE PUT IT ON YOUTUBE ALREADY! Please.