HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - A long afternoon stretched into evening, as
Michelle Wie battled like she never battled before on a golf course.
That 17-year-old diva who thinks she's above everything transformed into a stubborn, determined fringe player who only wants to get another round, another chance right before our eyes. For at least one day.
When it was over, Wie just wanted to collapse into the plush leather seats of her courtesy SUV. The clock read well after 8 p.m., darkness was rapidly approaching at Bulle Rock and Wie's entourage of seven prepared to whisk her away from LPGA Championship grounds.
Right past a small group of diehard fans who'd largely waited five and a half hours for this moment, through their dinners and their lives too. Including a four-year-old local girl named Sydney Serio, brought here by her policeman father, Scott Serio.
A little girl who was about to burst into tears, according to her dad, when Wie wearily said, "I'm not signing."
That's when B.J. Wie stepped in and started motioning like one of those guys who directs aircraft carrier F-16 landings, saying, "Sign, sign, sign."
Michelle's dad was close again and to some that's supposed to be a bad thing, one of the criticisms leveled by Wie's playing partner Alena Sharp after that disastrous, shameful Ginn Tribute withdrawal.
Only this time, B.J. Wie stepped in and did some good.
Michelle Wie stopped and signed Thursday night, gave the fans the five minutes they deserved. She left little Sydney Serio beaming and in possession of Wie's golf glove.
"That could have been ugly," Scott Serio said, walking away toward his car, as Wie walked into her entourage bubble. "I would have had a crying 4-year-old on my hand who thought I was a bad dad because I couldn't get her a Michelle Wie writing.
"Her dad deserves the credit. She wasn't going to sign. He saved the day."
Michelle needs more assists like this and less noise from Team Wie. It would have been easy for Wie to march away without signing. She could have almost justified it. She was tired, worn out from a gutsy, smart first round 73, when she rallied back from 4 over just when it looked like another train wreck loomed. She had that 8:10 tee time this morning.
Almost all the reporters had scurried away in a hustle to make deadline, upset with an LPGA media relations official only following orders who cut off Wie's interview at five measly questions. Probably no one would have known.
Only if you're Michelle Wie, someone's always watching. Even if it's just a dad and his little girl who are going to remember those few seconds in your presence for longer than your career. Whether that memory is good or bad, whether their friends and the friends of their friends hear how great or how horrible you are, is in your control.
In the gathering gloom of a trying day, B.J. Wie seemed to realize this. He did what dads are supposed to do: He stepped in when his daughter was about to make a mistake in life, not a mistake on the golf course.
Michelle Wie still needs her old dad, the transportation professor at the University of Hawaii. What she doesn't need are all the people telling her she can be the next Michael Jordan.
Watching Wie's slick William Morris Agency manager Greg Nared and Wie's slick celebrity swing coach David Leadbetter stand together talking in the setting afternoon sun, after she hit another tee shot, you could almost hear the sound of leeches sucking.
Leadbetter did his usual self-promoting best to take credit for Wie's intelligent play in the first round. He gave ESPN.com a catchy quote about her playing, "Betty Boop ball." Leadbetter is always ready with a great quote.
Earlier in the round, he said, "It's like having a Ferrari and not being able to take it out of second gear," continuing to insist on keeping the expectations racketed up on a player who's simply trying to find her away around the course right now.
With the way Wie brushed off Leadbetter's call for her to forget men's events, is it really a stretch to believe she had a lot to do with the head cover not coming off her driver once?
"I played smartly," Wie said. "I used my head. I just built a lot of confidence."
Maybe it's time for everyone to differentiate between the Wies and Team Wie. Michelle's mom Bo is a whirling dervish of support. When Wie hit a great approach on No. 8 - her 17th hole of the first round - Bo broke into a flurry of claps and near fist pumps. You can be sure that Michelle can hear her, no matter how big the gallery is.
It's hard to imagine B.J. Wie, who studies putts intently with his binoculars behind the ropes, advising his daughter that it was a good idea to not say sorry to Annika Sorenstam for marring Sorenstam's hostess debut tournament. At least you hope not.
That sounds like the work of the Jordanaires.
Michael Jordan could be a jerk to his fans too. Sometimes just a jerk in general. That doesn't make it right.
Maybe B.J. Wie's save makes a difference, maybe it's just another moment that's forgotten. It's up to Michelle.
"I got her glove!" Sydney Serio yelped, tugging on her dad's hand.
Scott Serio is the head of citywide robbery unit in Baltimore, dealing with bad guys in one of the most violent cities in the country. Michelle Wie couldn't have known that. But she made him smile when she stopped too.
Maybe that's something worth thinking about.
June 8, 2007
Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Anyone looking back at the final scores of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's will almost certainly come to the wrong conclusion that this was a comfortable three-shot win for Catriona Matthew. It was anything but as the seemingly imperturbable Scot struggled to hit a fairway throughout the final round and was only rescued by some superb recovery shots and a bunch of astonishing long putts.
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