Michelle Wie’s win at the US Open was a joy to behold, not only because she took a huge step towards fulfilling the potential placed upon her when she first broke on to the scene in 2000 as winner of the US Women’s Public Links, but because she silenced her sizeable number of critics, too.
Almost nine years have passed since she hit her first shots in a professional event. She spent four of them playing a limited number of events on the LPGA Tour until she turned 18 and qualified for full membership. She also finished high school, and graduated with a degree in communications at Stanford University, all the while continuing to progress on the golf course.
That’s a lot for anyone to handle, never mind trying to meet the expectations others have placed upon her to be one of the greatest players ever in the game.
The media, in particular, had been guilty of criticising Wie’s lack of major success. We did it, too. When it comes down to it, though, she’s just 24.
In years gone by, some of best players to play the game were still in the throes of their amateur career at 24, which begs the question – are we expecting too much too young from our young stars?
"Its time we realised players who taste success at the highest level early in their careers are exceptions."
Take Annika Sorenstam as an example. Widely regarded as one of the best female golfers of all time, having won ten major titles and 72 times on the LPGA Tour, she was 24 when she won her first major - the exact age Michelle Wie is now.
Michelle Wie and other youngsters in the limelight
Its time we realised players who taste success at the highest level early in their careers are exceptions, they’re not the norm.
We’ve seen it a bit with the coverage of Rory McIlroy in the last year. He’s still only 25 - yet people were saying he was past his best!
Matteo Manassero’s only 21 and he’s won four times on the European Tour. That’s an extraordinary feat, but if he goes the next three seasons without a major win will the media say he’s not fulfilling his potential?
At the end of the day, here are the cold hard facts. Michelle Wie is 24. She spent most of her teenage life as a professional golfer (what were you doing when you were 16?) and she’s had to cope with all that as well as extraordinary expectation levels while she grows up.
There’s a lot more to come from Michelle Wie. She potentially has another 20 years at the top of the ladies’ game. Expect more majors wins, expect more LPGA titles. But remember for now, she’s still young.