Michelle Wie has become a never-ending topic of conversation for people insideand outside golf; after withdrawing from the John Deere Classic with symptomsof heat exhaustion, she even popped up on a Weather Channel segment about thenation's heat wave. Please. The heat was not the big factor, but the secondword describing Michelle's condition should give pause to the people close toher--exhaustion. It's time to get this child off the multimillion-dollarmerry-go-round and let her rest, be a kid and learn to love golf the way any16-year-old should: as a game. Over the last month Michelle's mannerisms havebegun to show her frustration, not so much on the course (she has playedterrifically while perpetually under a microscope) but with the demands awayfrom it. Her expressions are strained, and her temperament is changing underthe pressure. Her remaining summer and fall schedule has her making two tripsto Europe, for events on the LPGA and European men's tour; another PGA Tourstart; endorsement appearances in New York City; and then a final LPGA start inPalm Desert, Calif. In between she'll squeeze in a few trips home to Hawaii forschool. Enough already! Her PGA Tour appearances have started to become asideshow. Michelle and her advisers decided that she'd turn pro last fall; thatcan't be changed. But she could limit her play to the seven LPGA eventspermitted under the current rules, enabling her to learn the flavor and art ofwinning and, above all, to enjoy being a kid. Her bank account may be full, butthe robbers are stealing her childhood. It only comes once.
The new PGA Tour schedule has two big holes--Chicago (every other year) andWashington, D.C. It's sad to see golf lose two events (the Western Open and theBooz Allen Classic) with such history and lose two cities with such a passionfor the game. The Tour shouldn't sacrifice its tradition for the corporatedollar. On the other hand, the LPGA should seize this opportunity to get backinto two key, golf-crazy metropolitan areas.
Dottie Pepper, a17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel,welcomes questions at dottie@SIletters.com.
DAVID WALBERG (PEPPER)
DAVID WALBERG (WIE TOP)
MICHAEL ROBINSON/BEATEWORKS/CORBIS (CHICAGO)