NYC media tour shows Wie transcends golf globally
NEW YORK – Two days after Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open, she sat in a Chipotle in the bottom of the Empire State Building eating a burrito bowl.
“Can you believe I was two matches away from playing in the Masters at 15?” asked Wie, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2005.
“Where do you go from there?”
Funny, that’s the very question being asked about Wie now that she has won her first major championship.
The short answer to the question is New York, where Wie went on a media whirlwind two days after taming Pinehurst No. 2. If this was a glimpse into the future of the LPGA, well, get out your shades.
It’s stop-the-car, hold-the-phone, glamorously bright, with a touch of TMZ and a twerk for good measure.
Michelle Wie transcends golf on a global scale, and her party is just getting started.
PHOTOS: Michelle Wie's media tour of NYC
A look at Michelle Wie's whirlwind media tour of New York City on June 24.
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At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, a team of hair and makeup artists arrived in Wie’s hotel room, plus a stylist who had come in the night before with wardrobe options for her media tour.
A team of 10 piled into a luxury bus bound for 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the “Today" show. As soon as the van door closed, Wie began a phone interview with SiriusXM PGA Tour radio.
The moment she stepped outside, photographers and TV cameras swarmed to capture the 6-foot stunner, who towered even higher thanks to generous heels. Once she was inside the NBC studios, Carson Daly and Matt Lauer rushed over to offer their congratulations.
“Not one three-putt?” Daly said in amazement. The hosts then asked to pose with the trophy before going back on air.
Back in the green room, Wie was as giddy about her “fierce” hair as she was about meeting Daly.
“It’s Carson Daly!” she shrieked. “I grew up watching him, like, every day of my life.”
While waiting to go out into the plaza with the “Today” gang, Wie talked about the after-party Sunday night. Three reggae bands from Hawaii (friends of Wie’s) who were touring together told her Saturday that they planned to make a detour from their schedule and stop by Pinehurst for the final round.
Two tour buses pulled into the parking lot of the Carolina Hotel. Wie’s manager Jamie Kuhn said it was like arts-and-crafts time Sunday morning as the bands – The Green, Iration and Rebelution – made signs that read #Wiebelieve. They even wore Hawaiian shirts.
When it came time to celebrate, the sound guy went to the trailer and carried a speaker into the party’s private room. DJs were aplenty.
Wie spent much of her time on Tuesday’s tour talking about the twerking video a band member posted that went viral.
“Twerking is like the new hugging,” Wie said, keeping it light.
As Wie left the "Today" set, Natalie Morales told Wie that she mistook her for a supermodel when she first walked through the door.
Once on the street, Harton S. Semple Trophy in tow, Wie immediately was ambushed by a TMZ reporter who followed her down 48th Street, asking hard-hitting questions such as “Who’s the best tweaker?”
Wie made her way over to “Fox and Friends,” where she taught the morning-show hosts how to mimic her tabletop putting style.
“Straighten your knees,” Wie kept repeating.
During a Fox Business interview, Wie tackled a question about growing the tour with such eloquence that it seemed as if she were maturing in front of our very eyes. Wie laughed naturally and sat with such perfectly straight posture, with the trophy by her side, that she looked regal. She displayed an unusually relaxed confidence all day, not once making a fuss or complaint.
When Wie’s segment on Fox Business was over, the talk turned to the Alibaba initial public offering, a jarring transition from golf.
Gerri Willis, host of "The Willis Report," made a point to seek out Wie after the hit and take a selfie.
“I watched the whole thing,” Willis said of the tournament. “Big fan.”
Producers at “Live with Kelly and Michael” must have liked what they had seen. By midmorning, Wie had an offer to come in Tuesday morning to tape a show for Friday. She then was scheduled to fly to Arkansas for this week's LPGA tournament.
Before heading to the next stop, Wie took off her Michael Kors heels and put on her custom-made Nikes with a cheetah-print swoosh. “Wiezy” is stitched on the back of the shoes.
The “s,” she said, is golfing Wiesy or #vintagewie. “Wiezy” is the girl who drinks out of the trophy while tabletopping.
The name “Big Wiesy” came from Ernie Els, a frequent playing partner at home in Jupiter, Fla. The Big Easy and Wiesy recently teamed to take money from Camilo Villegas and Rickie Fowler in a best-ball match at The Bear’s Club.
Fowler actually owes Wie a free loop after she won at Pinehurst.
The pair made a bet when Wie won in Hawaii that whoever took home a trophy next would get the other person as a caddie for a future pro-am.
Back in the van, Wie asked a member of the LPGA communications staff if there was anything specific that she wanted mentioned to tout the tour.
“That’s from being on the communications committee,” Wie said, laughing. “Do you know how many stats come through my email?”
Ten tournaments added in the past four years; 90 percent of television coverage now live; six new domestic events.
Wie’s head is constantly spinning with new ideas for the LPGA. Like taking her love of food and the tour’s travel schedule and hitting up “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
“I feel very honored that I’m in this position,” Wie said. “We put in a lot of hours trying to figure out ways to promote the tour and make it better.”
After a call to the "Dan Patrick Show" and a live segment on "CNN Newsroom," Wie dropped into an Omega boutique on Fifth Avenue to show love to her sponsor.
A couple who lived in the neighborhood was shopping in the store and sipping on champagne when Wie walked in with the trophy. Neither of them played golf, but the wife clued in her husband about the details of the surprise visitor.
Wie did the same at Niketown where, oddly, a second person mistook the Women’s Open trophy for the Stanley Cup.
Nike founder Phil Knight had emailed Wie a congratulatory note and told her that he cried when she won. Louise Suggs passed on her praise through Nike Golf president Cindy Davis. Barbara Nicklaus texted to say that she and Jack were proud and this major would be the first of many.
Fans constantly stopped Wie on the street for an autograph or a picture. She easily could have passed for an actress or a model.
“I still don’t understand how people recognize me,” Wie said.
When asked about her dating life, Wie joked: “I’m going to start buying cats.”
Funny, but it’s Wie’s history with men (on the course) that has made her one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world.
It was on a 55-second ride up the Empire State Building that Wie revealed a fear of heights. She talked about the time she once hit balls off a skyscraper in Dubai during a sandstorm. The building was still under construction, and the makeshift elevator didn’t help.
By the time Wie got to the Empire State observation deck, her fears had shifted to the wind, TV cameras and her short skirt.
With the city skyline as a backdrop and the world at her feet, Wie’s potential seemed limitless.
“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now,” she said.
And she's still climbing.