You'd never guess that this soon-to-be 21-year-old girl standing near the lunch table in the Pinnacle Country Club is the future of golf. No, you didn't read "future of women's golf," she's the future of golf. All of it.
You wouldn't guess it from her ability to joke with friends, or poke fun at certain caddies and laugh it off after. You couldn't tell from her leisurely outfits she wears out to practice during Tuesdays and Wednesdays of tournament week. For years we as golf fans have read about Michelle's parents and how tough they have been over her teenage life, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Both are just out supporting a daughter that has more skill in her pinkie finger than most professional golfers have in their entire body.
We've waited for this young phenom to break through for a while, mostly because we hoped it would happen, and now that it finally is things are as good we had hoped. The LPGA is in desperate need of a face for its tour, and Michelle is that face. On Sunday at the P&G NW Arkansas Championship, Wie didn't win, but she finished second, making it two tournaments in a row that Michelle has finished in the top two. Her win in Portland was exciting, but her play in Arkansas was inspiring, capped off by a 64 on Saturday that could have been 61 without much change.
Sure, critics that think she still isn't "there" can point to her second-place finish this weekend; but know that she lost to Yani Tseng, who closed with a 65 to edge Wie by a shot at 13-under. Also, you can't help but look at what Michelle did on her final two holes on Sunday to give herself a shot at a playoff. After making a bogey on the tough 16th, Wie finished birdie-birdie to close at 12-under, breaking 70 for the third straight round.
Her game continues to be more developed, and it's showing in these big moments, and the LPGA couldn't be happier to welcome it.
Just next to the range this week in Arkansas was a fitness trailer the LPGA brings to every tournament. On the side of it is a big painting that includes two faces; Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. I'm pretty sure in 2011, when they're picking faces to grace the side, Michelle will be there, smiling big like she does so much.
We all knew she might change the game of golf. We just needed to be a little patient.