She's already going pro. Every day. A little. On this Monday the transformation begins at three in the afternoon. A silver Lexus twinkles in the buttery afternoon sun as it idles in the horseshoe-shaped driveway of Honolulu's Punahou School. Her parents wait in the front seats. Her snack, a plate of coffee cake and a bottle of milk, is perched on the rear-seat divider. The school bell rings, and a tall, gangly freshman appears from behind a stucco wall, taking long strides across the close-cut lawn, her bubblegum-pink hoop earrings jiggling as she approaches. There are dozens of parents hanging their elbows out of parked automobiles, and she is one among a phalanx of students moving from school to car, trying, straining, as they all do, to somehow look cool while being picked up by mom.
Michelle Wie, five minutes removed from a fifth-period P.E. class, slips her 6-foot frame into the car, pops on the head-phones from her MP3 player, rocking the Black Eyed Peas jam-Where Is the Love?—which she is determined to play to death again. Bo, Michelle's 38-year-old mom, slides the transmission into drive. Dad B.J., 43, takes a call on his cell. And Michelle, who turned 14 last Oct. 11, unwraps her prepractice snack and wrinkles her nose. She has yet to acknowledge her parents.
"Are these leftovers?" she asks in a slightly annoyed tone. As if Michelle would eat food, from, like, yesterday. She extends the paper plate a few inches farther away. "Is this old?"
Bo responds in her native Korean. The coffee cake is fresh, of course, store bought this morning.
Michelle shrugs, turns up the volume and sips from the bottle of milk.
In her body language, in her imperious dismissiveness of her parents' obvious efforts to please, Michelle comes across as a typical 14-year-old. But every day when school ends, she has to make the journey from bored teenager to stolid professional golfer, if not in fact then in spirit. Every day. A little.
Bo steers the Lexus down the school driveway, south on Fern Street to the H-l Highway and then east through tunnels bored into the verdant, jagged karst that rings Honolulu. Dad's phone chirps, Mom drives, daughter cranks her music. It is a version of a scene replayed a few million times every day across the country. Then B.J. hangs up. The caller was an official from the PGA of America. They want Michelle. They were wondering, specifically, if she might be available (assuming she qualified) for the Junior Ryder Cup this September.
"Junior Ryder Cup?" Michelle says, as if weighing the words.
"There's a boys' and girls' team," B.J. explains.
"A girls' team?" Michelle asks, sounding incredulous, repeating what her dad said as she weighs the offer. Her tone sometimes takes on this unintended petulance, as if she can't believe what she's hearing. A million moms and dads—a hundred million, a billion—have heard their children employ this exact intonation, as in, We're having soup?