Golf News for Monday, May 8, 2006 | Daily Golf Blogs

William K. Wolfrum: Great weekend for Wie highlights LPGA's folly

When Lou Saban arrived as the new coach of the Buffalo Bills in 1972, it didn't take him long to go through his inventory and see the future of his team.

"We've got Secretariat out there, and we're going to run him," reportedly said Saban in so many words, with the Secretariat in question being a young, poorly used O.J. Simpson.

The results were staggering -- two years removed from a 1-13 season, Buffalo rode the pre-murder-trial Simpson for an NFL-record 2,003 yards, and made it to the playoffs.

More than 30 years removed from Saban seeing the obvious, it's time someone tell LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens what she just doesn't seem to be seeing -- in Michelle Wie, she has Secretariat.

This isn't to say that Wie is in the same league as Secretariat or O.J. as far as athletic accomplishment -- yet. But as a fan favorite and attraction, Wie is through the roof, and the LPGA is playing games with how much they want her connected to their tour.

A quick look at the myLPGA.com message boards shows something that TravelGolf.com readers have known for sometime -- Wie's popularity is mind-boggling. Currently at myLPGA, fans have posted nearly 12,000 times, with at least 3,387 posts being about Wie.

It's "at least" because that's just counting posts made in the Other Player Message Boards. There are many other Wie-related posts throughout the board, so figure more than 30 percent of messages made at myLPGA.com are about the teenager.

The LPGA's Franklin American Mortgage Championship is going on now with Angela Stanford on top. Stanford may go on to win the tourney, but even if she does so, and then proceeds to win the next dozen LPGA tournaments in a row, she will not even begin to approach the kind of popularity that Wie has right now. Annika Sorenstam has taught us that.

In Oct. 2005, Jennifer Mario wrote:

"Ms. Bivens seems to get it. Unlike, say, Nancy Lopez, she's ready to put a stop to all the nonsense and focus on what’s good for everyone, including the massive exposure that Michelle Wie will bring to women's golf.

But you won't read about any of this on the LPGA's Web site. Except for one link, their front page is devoid of any mention of Wie ... Ah well, I'm sure that will change with time. Meanwhile, maybe we can have Ms. Bivens talk to Chris Baldwin and ask him to put aside his petty resentments."

After finishing tied for 35th at a men's event in South Korea, the LPGA Web site currently has one link on their front page -- which takes a little searching to find -- about Wie.

The LPGA currently has a 600-pound gorilla in their midst, and they're using rules to keep her visibility low. Now is the time to change the rules and allow/convince Wie to play more, and to give her multitude of fans more about her.

No one is expecting the LPGA to sell out all of its other players at the expense of one teen. But Wie has shown she can compete, and that she can handle the pressure.

She's ready, it's the LPGA that apparently isn't. And the longer it continues, the more it looks like the LPGA are the ones with "petty resentments."

--WKW

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