The Michelle Wie saga continues. Wie has left her agency, William Morris, and likely will sign with IMG. Some may think that this move, along with Michelle’s decision to become an LPGA member, signals that she’s given up on being a crossover celebrity and will instead focus on becoming a great female golfer. I don’t necessarily agree. Yes, golf performance is the engine beneath the hood of this nicely restarted race car (she finished second in her lone 2009 start, the SBS Open), but it really doesn’t matter who represents Michelle: Mom and Dad (B.J. and Bo Wie) are still making the decisions.
I can say from personal knowledge that the three agents the Wies burned through at William Morris — Ross Berlin, Greg Nared and Jill Smoller — each cared for Michelle as a person, and they were realistic and honest in their assessments of Michelle’s career. They often disagreed with B.J. and Bo. I suspect that’s why they lost Michelle as a client, although the Wies haven’t given a reason. Still, this latest change indicates that off-course issues could continue to produce as much drama as Michelle’s play.
• In 2005 at Doral, Tiger Woods hit a 330-yard drive onto the green of the par-4 16th hole and two-putted for birdie. He went on to win the Ford Championship in a classic duel with Phil Mickelson. That dramatic moment helped spur what has become the most exciting trend in course setup: the high-risk, high-reward short par-4. Much of the credit goes to Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competitions. Looking for ways to get the players out of their defensive mind-sets, Davis decided to use short 4s. A prime example was in the ’07 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where there were three drivable 4s (2, 14 and 17). In the final round Jim Furyk, a conservative player, tried to drive two of them and ended up with a pair of bogeys. He lost by a shot. The trend will continue this year at Bethpage, and there is even talk of making those same holes at Oakmont drivable options for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2010. Terrific TV, terrific trend.