Little Miss Cut isn't ready

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Maybe it's time for Michelle Wie to step back and take a long, hard look at the path she is taking as a professional golfer.

With her latest failures, both at the European Masters in Switzerland last week and in Pennsylvania at the 84 Lumber Classic this week, it's very possible Wie is not getting closer to her goal, but further away.

That goal, of course, is to make a cut on the PGA Tour. Early attempts, in both 2004 and in 2005, showed some small promise. She missed the cut at the 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii by only one shot. She came close again at the '05 John Deere Classic and only a couple of late bogeys stood in her way.

But these last two weeks have been disastrous. She finished dead last at the European Masters, 15-over par for two rounds. Yesterday, she shot 81 in Pennsylvania and finished her two days at 14-over-par, 13 shots over the cutline.

There is no denying that Wie has the chance to be as good as any woman in golf history and that, one day, she may be able to challenge the men of the PGA Tour. At 16, she hits it long enough, but there are still enough holes in her game to keep her from truly competing.

Still in her first year as a professional, she has yet to win even a women's event but there's little concern that will come. Because she is not yet 18, she would have to petition the LPGA Tour to become a full member and she has not done that. There is every indication that if she did ask for an age exemption, she would get it.

But then, as an LPGA member, she would not be free to pursue her agenda in men's events as liberally as she has so far. LPGA members must get permission to play outside events that conflict with their own Tour and are only allowed a couple of exemptions per year.

Wie doesn't need to give up her dream of playing with the men. She just needs to delay it because if she continues to try, and fail as badly as she has the last couple of weeks, she risks her own credibility as a player. She is already a sideshow. She's in danger of becoming some kind of circus freak.

She has shown in major championships that she already is on a par with the elite of the women's tour. She already has played in 13 major championships and finished in the top 10 seven times, including six top five finishes.

The belief by many people in the game, most of whom want only the best for Wie, is that she should settle into a full LPGA schedule (presuming the LPGA will grant her a membership), build up a resume of excellence, get stronger, learn all about winning and become more physically and mentally mature over, say, a five-year period.

Then, once she has established herself as a dominant force on the LPGA, she might want to revisit her dreams of playing with the men.

The problem with that scenario is that Wie has no intention of changing her strategy. She is going to continue playing men's events, as well as a partial LPGA schedule, come hell or high water.

"I think a lot of people think that I have to master the LPGA before I can get to the PGA, but my feeling is a little bit different on that," said Wie this week in Pennsylvania. "I'm playing the maximum number of LPGA events that I can. But the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour are so different that I feel like I have to play in PGA Tour events to get better at PGA Tour events. I just have to go through it and work on it and learn from it. That's the way I'm learning to do it on the LPGA as well. I know it's not going to come overnight, it's just a long learning process."

It's hard to know if this is her own agenda or that of her father. He maintains that Michelle is driving this bus herself. If that's true, then perhaps she needs to be guided in a new direction. There are plenty of smart people in the Wie camp, including swing guru David Leadbetter, and somebody needs to convince Wie that this may not be the best route. The plan may not need to be abandoned but it definitely needs to be tweaked.

Problem is, how do you tell a headstrong 16-year-old whose talent already has made her a multi-millionaire before she has won even one tournament, that she's on the wrong track?


Videos

Photos