Wie's critics out in full force

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

Michelle Wie knows that people are pointing fingers.

Talking behind her back. Second guessing. Giggling.

She knew it was coming.

They criticized her methods and her motives when she was on top of the world, after all - a six-foot-one teenage phenomenon who could hit it longer in her sleep than most guys could in their dreams - so why wouldn't they now, with her season lying in pieces at her feet.

"People have different opinions of me," said Wie, who remains the biggest thing to hit golf since Tiger Woods, despite the nightmare that is 2007. "I can't control what everyone thinks about me. I'm not God; I can't be like, 'You can't think that.' People have their own opinion and I totally respect that."

The opinions vary, from 'Cut her some slack, she's coming off a broken wrist,' to 'She should focus more on being a player instead of a marketing machine,' but there's no debating the numbers.

In five tournaments this year she withdrew, finished 84th, withdrew, tied for 69th and missed the cut.

She shot an 82 in the first round of the U.S. Open, 80 in the second at the British and 83 in the third round of the LPGA Championship.

She went 24 consecutive rounds without breaking par and was en route to posting an 88 earlier this year, which would have gotten her banned from LPGA events for the rest of the season, but withdrew, complaining of wrist pain, only to tee it up the very next week.

HARD YEAR FOR WIE

"This was a hard year," she said after her CN Canadian Women's Open practice round yesterday. "My first hard year I've ever experienced as a player. It's going to make me a stronger player.

"I just have to get through it and be patient with myself."

Golf has always come so easily to her that it almost seemed unfair. She was bombing it 300 and beating up on men when she was 12. Nike made her a millionaire before she ever won an LPGA event or made a PGA cut (she's 0-33 in the former, 0-12 in the latter).

Now she's running into heavy, heavy turbulence, dropping from No. 3 in the world to No. 48, and everyone is watching to see how she deals with it.

"Unfortunately I haven't been able to play the way I wanted to (because of her wrist), but that's the way golf is, that's the way life is," said Wie, who's still remarkably poised and confident for a 17-year-old who's never been humbled before.

GOOD WITH THE BAD

"You have good moments and you have to have bad moments. But it all depends on how you tackle the bad moments. I feel this summer, this whole year, is going to make me a stronger person and a stronger player because of all the hardships I've had to overcome.

"I feel I'm definitely on the road to recovery. I just have to be patient with myself and ask everyone to be patient with me as well. 'Cause, it is a hard thing coming back from an injury, it's a lot harder than I thought."

Everything is harder when you're down than it is when you're up. She knows that now. Like she knows that some of her decisions, like failed attempt after failed attempt to make a PGA cut, like not giving her wrist time to heal, like taking a knee instead of trying to break that 88, aren't popular with all.

"I feel I'm on the right road," she said.

"Obviously people are second guessing my choices because of how I played this year, but like I said, I wasn't 100% this whole year.

"I don't count this year, basically."

All she can do is accept the slings and arrows from her critics, wait till she's 100% again, and, hit the re set button on her ascension.


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