After Michelle Wie failed to defend her Canadian Women’s Open title Sunday (she tied for second with Stacy Lewis, one shot back of winner Brittany Lincicome), LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam claimed that the Stanford student lacked the mental toughness to win.
“I stand by [earlier comments questioning Wie’s psychological makeup],” Sorenstam told sports radio talk show host Steve Czaban on Monday. “I still feel so.”
Sorenstam, who seems to take every chance she can get to remind Wie of her failure to live up to the hype that accompanied her tour debut as a pre-teen, claimed to be a fan of the Hawaii native while taking her down a peg.
Great swing. “I’ve always been an admirer of Michelle Wie,” Sorenstam told Czaban, who went off on a bit of a toot of his own about the 21-year-old. “She has one of the best swings in the game of golf.”
Sorenstam said, however, that championship golf requires more than just a pretty motion.
“You would think that being on the scene for many years now that she would have [succeeded] a lot more,” Sorenstam said. “It just goes to show that it’s a lot more than a golf swing that matters and the mental aspect is a really important part of the game.”
Wie, whose most recent of her two tour wins was last year at the same event, came up a putt short of forcing a playoff with Lincicome. Starting Sunday’s finale with a share of a one-stroke edge over the eventual champion, Wie battled back with birdies on 13 and 15 to regain a tie for the lead with five-time tour victor Lincicome. A water ball and a bogey on the 16th effectively ended her run but a final-round 72 (tacked on to three rounds in the 60s) resulted in her second runner-up finish of the season.
Not good enough, according to Sorenstam, who last month suggested Wie’s priorities were all wrong for stayingin school instead of making golf her full-time job. Czaban brought up that topic on Monday, wondering why Wie was wasting her time at the collegel Tiger Woods attended for two years.
“I don’t know what that Stanford education is gonna do once she’s out of school and she’s playing the tour full-time,” said Czaban, himself a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. “I mean nothing against the Stanford education, but so many other players, especially on the LPGA side, they go pro early, this is when they make their career.”
Czaban’s next question put Sorenstam in the unfamiliar position of defending Wie’s choice to make college a priority.
“Do you understand why she’s going to school?” he asked.
Yes and no was Sorenstam’s reply.
“I do admire people that try to get their education and she’s certainly going to one of the best schools in the country,” she said. “I’m sure she has plans for her future. I do know that it’s very hard to combine professional golf with studies. It’s so competitive out there.”
Sorenstam acknowledged that Wie brought a lot of pluses to the LPGA, and the 10-time major champion looked forward to watching a “more committed Michelle” on tour after the 21-year-old completed her education.
“She’s great for the game, I love to see her up there,” Sorenstam said. “But like I said, at this time I would have thought we would have seen a lot more from her.”
Not a fan. Czaban, for the record, is no fan of Wie. He ripped the then-17-year-old a new one back in 2008 for behaving badly in several instances, including her controversial (what Czaban called “cowardly”) withdrawal from Sorenstam’s Ginn Tribute event in 2007. In danger of running afoul of the tour’s Rule of 88, which bans golfers who score 88 or worse from subsequent tourneys that year, Wie claimed a wrist injury caused her to quit — an assertion other golfers disputed and that rankled Sorenstam as well.
Czaban was hardly alone in challenging Wie’s motives for many of her questionable actions back then. But it seemed to be personal to the sports radio talkmeister.
“I’m rooting for Michelle Wie to fail in the most spectacular way possible,” Czaban wrote in OnMilwaukee.com. “I want carnage. I want tears. I want her career in ruins.”
Sorenstam, by the way, will tee it up with Woods and other LPGA and PGA luminaries at the star-studded Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge on Wednesday.