Wie maintains child-like innocence

PALM DESERT, Calif. – She is Michelle Wie.

She has a Kia Soul. “Very Stanford,” she said of her new car.

She has a $1 pair of thrift store jeans. “Very cool,” she observed.

She has a well-worn statistics textbook. “Very difficult,” she said of her most difficult college subject.

She has a bum left ankle. “Very sore.”

Above all, she has a brilliant future. “No predictions.”

End of interview. Very brief.

OK, it wasn’t really an interview. It was a Golfweek photo shoot at Bighorn Golf Club, and I was just watching.

My impression: Wie may be 20, but she seems much younger. She is Michelle in Wonderland.

There is a little-girl innocence about the millionaire who giggles over buying $2 jeans at a half-price sale, thus reducing the final price to $1.

All of us remember our first car. With Wie’s kid-like enthusiasm about her vehicle, I was almost convinced she had been driving around town with the hamsters who star in the Kia Soul television commercial.

Of course, she has no car payment. C’mon, man. That would be taking this real-world stuff just a little too far.

photo

Michelle Wie got her first victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Life is tough enough when you’re taking a statistics class and the instructor is a real taskmaster. Wie’s father, B.J. Wie, said his daughter studied her statistics text for 20 hours during the week of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, which she won for her first LPGA victory.

Then there’s this ankle business. After winning the Ochoa, she withdrew from the LPGA Tour Championship because of ankle pain. Finally she had an MRI – good news, it’s only a sprain.

Wie is doctor-shy after a left wrist injury ended up handicapping her golf game for two years.

She hurt the wrist by falling while running. She twisted the ankle by stepping in a hole on a golf course.

So, I carefully wrote down the following exchange between Golfweek LPGA beat writer Beth Ann Baldry and Wie:

Baldry: “You’re a real klutz, aren’t you?”

Wie: “Very much so.”

Baldry: “What’s going on?”

Wie: “I fall down for no reason. I have so many bruises on my body, and cuts everywhere.”

I can’t imagine anyone posing the same question to Tiger Woods – “Hey, Tiger, you’re a real klutz, aren’t you?” – but it fit the mood with Wie. She was a youngster skipping school for a photo shoot. Or so it seemed.

The biggest insight of the day: B.J. Wie revealed it took two years for Michelle to regain the driving distance she lost with the wrist injury.

My opinion: In terms of raw talent, Wie is the most gifted woman ever to play the game. More so, I believe, than even Babe Zaharias, the most versatile athlete to star on the LPGA tour.

The 6-foot-1 Wie already is a physical grownup. When her mental maturity eventually matches her physical stature, she will dominate the LPGA and win major championships by the basketful.

After all, she is Michelle Wie, and we’re not.

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