A year ago at this time, Michelle Wie was still an enigma, her potential still tethered by a series of questionable career decisions made over several years.
Today, she's an LPGA star whose stock is rising by virtue of a victory in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and a starring role in the Solheim Cup.
Then came this story in the Honolulu Advertiser on Christmas Day. The headline: "Wie plays Santa to hospitalized keiki."
Wie teamed with Walmart to donate nearly $10,000 worth of toys to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii, then kicked in another $10,000 to upgrade computers and televisions at two Ronald McDonald Houses. On Christmas Eve, she visited with kids at the Ronald McDonald House at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children.
"It was such an honor when we found out Michelle Wie picked Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii as her charity of choice this Christmas," Jerri Chong, RMHC-Hawaii president, told the Advertiser. "Michelle touched so many lives this morning. The smiles on the children's faces were priceless."
The media criticism that dogged in previous years seems to have vanished entirely. As Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson wrote in a roundup of the year in golf, "Wie, meanwhile, might have the best of two worlds. She appears to be loving everything about college life at Stanford - something hardly any of her peers ever experienced - and she had a blast on the course, too, winning for the first time and playing a key role in the Americans' victory in Solheim Cup."
What a difference a year makes.
-- John Strege