Will the Team Embrace Wie?

August 06, 2009

I had mixed feelings when Captain Beth Daniel picked Michelle Wie to round out the 12 players on this year's U.S. Solheim Cup team. The tall Hawaiian will undoubtedly draw viewers, and her play as of late proves she's got game (after placing T-11 at the Women's British Open last week, Wie moved up to No. 13 on the Solheim Cup team points list). But she hasn't won an event since winning the Publinx in 2004.Â

Paul Azinger, who captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team last year, would not have picked her: "All along what I said was I felt like it would be difficult to win the team if you didn't win a tournament," Azinger said, when he announced his Ryder Cup team last Fall.

Plus, I was afraid she lacked a team-player attitude, and I thought her polarizing presence could stir up conflict during the biennial matches, which will be held at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois from October 17-23.

My initial reaction was dead wrong.

Twitter feeds and photos from Wie's fellow teammates imply nothing but positive thoughts about their 19-year-old comrade.

[I'd normally post two Tweets I read last night, one by Natalie Gulbis and another by Morgan Pressel, but a hacker cracked the code and got his paws on Twitter's database. The site is currently down. But until the site is up and running, take it from me: the girls are quite pleased.]

And Eric Adelson, who first interviewed Wie nearly a decade ago and just published a book about her, also weighed in on the Wie-factor.

"Her reputation is not as a team player," Adelson said during practice rounds on Wednesday. "But I've spoken to a lot of the women on tour, and their frustration is more with her parents."

The always-jubilant Christina Kim agrees.

"It's nice that people have been able to get to know Michelle and can see her for who she is," Kim said. "An incredible human being with a huge heart and one of the most fun-loving, free-spirited people you will ever meet."

There's been little backlash concerning Daniel's decision, and the captain hasn't had to defend herself or Wie.

"I looked at pretty much every stat I could look at but I kind of had my 'What have they done recently?' factor," Daniel said. "And that was the big determining factor for me because I've said all along I want the hottest players I could get coming into the event, and she is definitely one of the hottest players."

Looks like Wie may actually take that "i" out of her name, no?

--Ashley Mayo