Wie Revels In Double Life

SINGAPORE I Michelle Wie’s two very different lives came together last week in Singapore. Wie, the golfer, was competing in the HSBC Women’s Champions at Tanah Merah, while Wie, the Stanford student, was working on a short film-clip.
The tutor who had agreed to give her some extra time away from her media studies had asked her to bring back a clip which would capture the difference between a press conference in Asia and one in the States.
Wie seized on the subject matter. As luck would have it, the conference ahead of the HSBC week was light years removed from any she had known in the States in that she and Paula Creamer were asked to dress up.
“That’s something,” she chuckled, “which would never happen at home.”
Where Creamer, with the assistance of Ai Miyazato, was wrapped in a Japanese kimono, Wie had Jiyai Shin to advise as she stepped into the kind of Korean hanbok (traditional Korean dress) she had not worn since childhood.
Her father, B.J., was deputed to shoot the scene and Michelle was doing a spot of surreptitious directing whilst smiling prettily for the world’s press.
“I was kind of signaling him to get pictures of this person and that,” she explained afterwards.
On the writing side of things, Wie already knows what it is to have been published. The theme of the article in question concerned obesity among the young and explained how, where children are given smaller plates, the majority will lose weight without recourse to special diets. Her tutor was sufficiently impressed to send her work to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Citizen, with the latter seeing it as front-page material.
When Wie first went to Stanford in 2007, there were plenty to predict that she would do as Tiger and last no more than a couple of years. Today, she is only a year away from graduating – it will have taken her four-and-a-half years altogether – and that though she has missed out on one semester in every three in order to play her golf.
B.J. thought it might take her six years against the usual four. Michelle, for her part, said laughingly that she had worried it might take 20.
“If it all works out,” she said, “I don’t mind admitting that I’ll be proud of myself.”
Had she been looking for a career outside golf, she would have taken aim on doing as her father in becoming a professor rather than working as a journalist. The explanation, here, is that in spite of the inordinate amount of questions she has had to answer in her young life, she hates asking them. Yet, she has found it hugely illuminating to study what is expected of journalists and how they work.
“One thing that’s been brought home to me,” she says, “is why they might be selective in the quotes they use. Very often, they will have been told by their editors to angle a piece in a certain way, which means that they will use the quotes that support whatever the message they want to get across. As I’ve discovered for myself, it’s not as easy as you think it is to give both sides of a story.”
Michelle’s split lifestyle – at the moment it takes in four or five hours of golf every day and studying in all the time left over – is something she appreciates.
“What I so love about college,” she said, “is that it allows me to be my age, to be 21. My college friends don’t care how I score at golf so I’m not judged on how I do. But that,” she continued, “is not to say that I dislike the pressures that are on me when I play golf. I enjoy being expected to do well.”
Even before she embarked on the second half of her Asian trip, Wie had a second place in the bag from the Honda LPGA Thailand, an event which resulted in a fourth win in as many starts for Yani Tseng.
Though Wie says, lightly, that she will revel in having time to put her feet up and watch TV when her studies are done, she knows to expect a yawning gap in her life. She may go back to learning Chinese and Japanese, two subjects she abandoned as others had to take pride of place. At the very least, she will return to the Chinese calligraphy she so enjoyed at high school.
Like so many of her sister players, Wie loves the fact that the LPGA is becoming ever more happily cosmopolitan.
“I don’t think it’s emphasized enough how much more global we are than any of the other tours,” she says, proudly. “We’re learning each other’s languages and learning from each other all the time.”
Rather as happens at Stanford.


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