Monday, December 7, 2009
Wie maturing on a healthy diet of golf, college and Spam
Quick quiz: How old is Michelle Wie?
Based on how long she's been around -- did Brett Favre's or her career start first? -- you'd think she's at least 25, maybe starting to bang on that door of the 30s.
Um, no. How 'bout not even drinking age? That's right -- Wie is just 20 years old. It really does seem like an eternity ago when she took the golf world by storm as a precocious 13-year-old focused on playing with the men and showing up veteran golfers across the world.
That was then. Read this Sports Illustrated article and you'll see that Wie -- despite the teenage fits, despite the overbearing coaching style of her parents, despite the endorsements, the fame, the money -- has turned out just fine. Actually, it's pretty incredible that Wie has become, almost, a normal college student at Stanford who loves Spam, hangs out with a large group of friends and, get this, is even frugal.
Frugal? If I had millions of dollars at that age, I think I might upgrade from Spam. Just a thought.
But this column isn't about Spam. I'll be sure to dedicate a future column (non on this blog, mind you) to the utterly disgusting food. This is about the maturation of a famous athlete both as a player and a person.
Who knows how good of a career Wie will have? That's as unpredictable as the economy. But she did pick up her first LPGA victory recently, showing grit in the final round to stave off a strong field of contenders. Learning how to win is a big, big part of becoming a top-notch pro, especially as a golfer out there on the course alone. Wie did that, and now here, less than a month later, she has greater confidence as she prepares for the 2010 season.
Is she stressing about building off the win? Absolutely not. She's more concerned about her papers that are due, her finals coming up. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Wie is her ability to balance schoolwork at a top-notch institution along with playing golf professionally. She'll graduate from Stanford in the next couple years, and still have plenty of good years on the golf course ahead.
Perhaps the biggest indication of her maturity is what her competitors are saying, and they're not just praising her because of her importance, marketing-wise, when it comes to the LPGA's success. Just a couple years ago, they were sick of her childish behavior and pompousness on the links.
And now? "So many players have come up to me this year and said, 'Wow, Michelle is a really cool, really sweet, really down-to-earth girl,'" Natalie Gulbis was quoted in the SI article.
Having friends and admirers, of course, doesn't win tournaments. And neither does getting A's in college. But from all indications, Wie has found a happy balance in life -- and is playing the best golf of her career as a result.