Never mind what Karl Rove said to “Scooter” Libby that may have been heard by Judith Miller who would do 80 days in jail for something Bob Novak would put in print with impunity. And who spells Flame with a “P,” anyway? The name that is important here is none of the above. It is Michelle Wie. Yes, the 16-year-old (barely) golfer whose professional debut was marked, and marred, by one of those lessons in life that must be attended by each and every one of us before this mortal coil is shuffled. But such an early shuffle!
Wie had finished a respectable fourth in a field of the Samsung World Championship led by the indomitable Annika Sorenstam. For this Wie was to have received $53,000 and change and the plaudits of a sports world that had wondered at her abilities for months leading up to her baptism among the ladies who play for pay. But no. Wie had not reckoned on the intervention of one of those people who do not play but who make a living watching others who can, a professional voyeur. One Michael Bamberger, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, thought he had seen a miscue of Wie’s on the day before the tournament ended. Wie was to be undone.
Bamberger, gifted with not only a writing ability but also the global positioning capacity of a satellite, summoned Robert O. Smith, the LPGA Tour rules official, and they trouped back out to the seventh green Sunday evening to reconstruct a drop from an unplayable lie Wie had made on Saturday. After two trips to the green and re-enactments by Wie and her caddy, the lass was disqualified. It was determined that the drop from which she played her ball was closer to the hole than the point from where she had lifted and placed it. A rules violation and disqualification.
The eagle-eyed Bamberger had been some 15 yards away on the fateful day. After Wie had holed out, he stayed behind and paced off the distances, from where the ball first landed and from where the drop was made. He contacted the tour rules guy, Smith, the next day, saying he’d become more uncomfortable the more he thought about it, and rules officials said Wie had in fact dropped the ball about 12 inches nearer the hole, still 45 yards away. Wie says if it was truly closer it may have been three inches nearer.
The lessons learned? Always get a tour official to oversee a drop, and arbitrate an unplayable lie. Your caddy won’t do; he is on your side. The gallery is no help, either.
And remember that for each of us, someday, somewhere, there waits a Bamberger.
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