I just watched Michelle Wie come oh so close to becoming the first woman to ever qualify for the men's U.S. Open. Halfway through the final round of qualifying, she was under the cut line. It was heartbreaking to see her come up short. I can't understand how anyone can say a negative word about her. The 16-year-old golfer from Hawaii has accomplished some amazing things in her young career. I know, the naysayers say, "what has she won?" Just playing in a PGA tournament is not enough for you? Consider this. What had you accomplished when you were 16? For me, passing my classes and making my high school sophomore football team seemed like a pretty big accomplishment. I couldn't imagine playing on the varsity at that age. I surely couldn't imagine playing in the NFL at 16! I know you can't compare football and golf in those terms, but you get my point. The aspirations of a normal 16-year-old boy or girl don't typically involve competing with people twice their age.
Let's take a look at what Michelle Wie has accomplished at the tender young age of 16.
Age 4: Began playing golf
Age 7: Shot a 14-over par 18-hole round of golf
Age 10: Shot a 64. She also became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship (USGA Women's Amateur Public Links)
Age 11: Won the Hawaii State Women's Stroke Play Championship. Reached 3rd round of stroke play at the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links.
Age 12: Won the Women's division of the Hawaii State Open. Reached semifinals of the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links (youngest to do that). Became youngest player ever to qualify for an LPGA tournament.
Age 13: Won the Women's U.S. Amateur Public Links (youngest to do that). Youngest player to make the cut in an LPGA tournament and major (Nabisco Championship in which she finished 9th!). Finished ahead of 50 men in attempting to qualify for the PGA's Sony Open.
Age 14: Youngest player to play in a PGA event, and first woman to score a sub-70 round in PGA history (68 in Sony Open in which she missed the cut by one stroke!) Finished 4th at LPGA's Nabisco Championship
Age 15: Finished 2nd in the LPGA Championship (she also finished second at the LPGA's SBS Open at Turlte Bay). Shot 1-under par at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic (missed the cut by 2 strokes). She also turned pro!
Age 16: Debuted on the women's world golf rankings at #2! Finished 2nd at LPGA's Nabisco Championship. Made the cut in a men's Asian Tour event (SK Telecom Open).
I have a great way to put this into perspective. Anika Sorenstam is the number one ranked female golfer in the world, and future hall-of-famer. She has won 81 professional events, including nine majors. But, she didn't win her first professional tournament until she was 24!
Imagine what Michelle Wie will accomplish by the time she's 24?! She'll probably be playing on the PGA tour by then, for all we know. But, until then, why don't we cut her a little slack, sit back, and enjoy the ride. After all, Michelle's just now learning to drive!