To find a grown man willing to be humiliated and embarrassed by
the 14-year-old, par-5-gobbling female phenom golfer known as
Michelle Wie, you need to find someone used to humiliation and
embarrassment. You need someone with his own 14-year-old
And so it was that I played in the LPGA's Safeway International
pro-am scramble near Phoenix recently. And after going 18 holes
with the Big Wiesy, I can see no real difference between her and
my daughter Rae.
For instance, one constantly outdrives me. The other I'm
constantly out driving.
And they both seem to live to a) buy $4 dangly earrings, b) talk
about boys and c) talk about boys while buying $4 dangly
earrings. "I have this one pair that kind of hurt," Michelle said
on one hole.
"Too tight?" I asked.
"No, I swing so hard they come up and slap me in the cheeks."
Don't recall Arnie ever having that problem.
Also, each girl comes with FANS (Filtration of Adult Noise
System). Example: When I say, "Rae, clean up your room, please,"
she hears, "Rae, continue to IM about boys, text-message about
boys and call, quilt and smoke-signal about boys, please."
Same with Michelle, who will become the youngest U.S. player in
Curtis Cup history when the Americans play the team from Great
Britain and Ireland in two weeks. When I, as the self-appointed
captain of our pro-am team, said to her on the 1st hole,
"Michelle, just get something out in the middle of the fairway
here. That corner is too long to cut," she heard, "Dude! Go for
So she vaporized her balata exactly 307 yards, over the corner,
to the middle of the fairway, 20 yards farther than the LPGA pro
in our foursome, the damn-long Jill McGill, and 40 yards farther
than the captain. (There were no more instructions given.)
The girls could use a little help with math, too. When I pointed
out to Michelle that Tiger Woods is twice her age, she said,
"Does that mean when I'm 28, he'll be 56?"
Tiger's coming down with a bizarre aging disease might help in
her stated goal to whup him someday, head-to-head, same tees. "So
I'd have to be like, 38 and he could be 52," she says. "I think
that would work."
She's that way, saying things you just never thought would come
out of the mouth of a 14-year-old girl. That day, a reporter
asked her, "Michelle, what's the hardest shot for you at your
age?" And she answered, "When the ball is behind the tree."
On the 13th hole of the pro-am she uttered, "I played with Jack
Nicklaus and he outdrove me twice! That's amazing, don't you
think, for a sixtysomething guy?"
And here's Michelle on Greg Norman and his declaration that women
shouldn't be allowed to play on the PGA Tour: "It just proves
You play 18 holes with Michelle, you feel just slightly older
than Tom Morris's niblick. Of the 12 drives she hit that day, six
went more than 300 yards, and not one traveled less than 285. On
most holes you could've built a Big K-Mart in the space between
her drive and mine.
Her iron game is clean, her short game crisp and her putting
stroke butter. It was a scramble, but if she'd played her own
ball, I made her for a five-under 67, easy.
Yet when I was walking down the fairway with her, it was exactly
like walking in the mall with Rae. Both are forever talking about
what they'll buy when they're rich. ("I want a pink Audi TT, just
like Suki's in 2 Fast 2 Furious," Michelle says.) Both never stop
tugging at their skirts. And both refuse to date boys shorter
than they are. For the 5'2" Rae, it's easy. For the 6'1"
Michelle, it's a cruel rule. "That only leaves, like, six guys in
my whole high school!" she says.
The only difference between Rae and Michelle is that every 10
minutes or so Michelle will suddenly morph from Gidget into
Godzilla, swinging a driver so hard that small animals are caught
up in the clubsuck. Spectators gasp and then whoop lustily. Then
Michelle, suddenly Shirley Temple again, smiles primly and
squeaks, "Thank you."
Oh, and Rae and Michelle speak a language unfamiliar to leading
anthropologists. On one hole Michelle won a bet from me, waved
her index finger in the air like Beyonce and declared with a
grin, "Ya betta rec-uh-NIIIIIIIZE!!!"
And Mr. Hip replied, "What?"
Her shoulders slumped, and she grumbled, "Ask your daughter.
So I did. One night Rae had her FANS up full, not hearing a word
about her chores. So I suddenly wagged my index finger and said,
in fluent Beyonce, "Rae, ya betta rec-uh-NIIIIIIIZE!!!"
She stared at me for a good 20 seconds and then said, in all
sincerity, "Dad? Will you promise me something?"
"Will you promise to never, ever do that in front of my friends?"
I promise ... I'll only do it in front of the boys.
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
Walking down the fairway with Michelle Wie was exactly like
walking in the mall with my daughter Rae.