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Troubled times for Wie as U.S. Open begins

They'll ask Wie the kind of questions they wouldn't ask a 13-year-old. And they'll expect grown-up answers, not the one Wie gave when asked about pulling out of the Ginn the way she did.

"I don't think I need to apologize for anything," she said.

No one in the Wie family has felt the need to apologize for anything since she began playing with the pros, which is part of the problem. She was always the chosen one, and anyone who objected to tournament invitations or special privileges simply didn't understand she was entitled to them.

So when Wie fires her caddie or switches agents like she did last year, it's never her fault. When she walks off the course after holding a conversation with her agent and says her wrist is injured, then the wrist must have suddenly flared up.

When she was playing well and drawing large galleries to tournaments like the John Deere Classic, that was tolerated. Now, she hasn't broken par in her last 20 competitive rounds. Wie finished 10 shots behind the next worst player earlier this month in the LPGA Championship, where the $3,273 check was her first performance payday of the year.

Her confidence is so shaky she played three rounds at the LPGA Championship without pulling the driver out of the bag. Last week she announced she wouldn't play in the John Deere, where she nearly made the cut against men as a 15-year-old, because she no longer has the length to play the course.

That just might be the best decision Wie and her parents have made since she celebrated her 16th birthday by signing $10 million in endorsement contracts with Nike and Sony. It's true she got those contracts largely because she created a stir by playing against men, but the idea is not nearly as intriguing now as it was a few years back.

The best thing about being 17 is that Wie has plenty of time to find herself and her game. She may yet have a long and successful career and do the kind of things on the golf course that so many predicted for her just a few years ago.

A good start on the path to recovery might be to leave her golf clubs at home when she heads to Stanford. Her parents could do her a big favor by letting her enjoy her freshman year living among others her age without worrying once about whether she can hit the fairway with her driver.

Tiger Woods looks back fondly on his stay at Stanford as a time he began to start finding his own way. Some day Wie might be doing the same thing.

It doesn't seem like five years have passed since Wie first gained notoriety by qualifying for an LPGA event at the age of 12. But she'll be 18 this fall, at which time she legally becomes an adult.

That's one of the problems with child prodigies. They always grow up way too fast.

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