- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Don’t mistake Paula Creamer’s success for Michelle Wie’s failure.

When the 18-year-old Creamer dropped the winning putt at last week’s Sybase Classic to collect her first LPGA title in just her ninth start as a professional, a number of golf’s literati decided to pounce on Wie and her rather audacious career game plan.

Unlike Creamer, who has stated repeatedly that her only goal is eventually to dominate the women’s game, Wie boldly has proclaimed that her goals include playing at the Masters and regularly competing on the PGA Tour. Many have been turned off by the temerity of Wie’s aspirations, suggesting she should master competition against women before even mentioning, much less attempting, the PGA Tour.

After all, Wie’s critics will argue, she only has won one moderately important women’s event (the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship), much less a professional women’s event. Creamer, who attended the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and collected 19 national junior titles, has touched all the traditional rungs on her way up golf’s elite ladder. She has done things the right way. She finished first at last year’s LPGA Tour Q-school. She will graduate from high school this week (Pendleton in Bradenton) and then return next week to her rookie role as supporting actress in the Sorenstam Show.

The 15-year-old Wie, these traditionalists will argue, shouldn’t waste her time attempting to qualify for men’s events on the USGA calendar (U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links). She shouldn’t be so presumptuous as to accept sponsor’s exemptions to PGA Tour events (Sony Open, John Deere Classic). She should restrict her appearances to women’s amateur events and the odd LPGA start.

Frankly, these folks don’t get it. First, Wie is free to do whatever her pubescent heart desires, and that includes flouting tradition and chasing her dreams. She still will make seven LPGA starts this season, and she has finished second and tied for 14th in the first two.

And second, comparing Creamer and Wie is a classic case of apples and oranges. One is a polished 5-foot-9 technician who averages 250.3 yards off the tee (50th on the LPGA). The other is a wiry 6-footer with a raw short game who averages 300 yards off the tee. Comparing Creamer to Wie is like comparing Martina Hingis to Serena Williams, circa 1998. No knock on Creamer, but she hasn’t discussed playing among the men because it’s a physical impossibility, and she knows it.

Wie, on the other hand, has both the raw tools and the undeniable right to pursue her dream of competing on the PGA Tour. The golf world should learn to enjoy her unbridled spirit instead of constantly questioning it.

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