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The Pepper Mill
DOTTIE PEPPER
July 24, 2006
STOP THE MADNESS Michelle Wie has become a never-ending topic of conversation for people inside and outside golf; after withdrawing from the John Deere Classic with symptoms of heat exhaustion, she even popped up on a Weather Channel segment about the nation's heat wave. Please. The heat was not the big factor, but the second word describing Michelle's condition should give pause to the people close to her--exhaustion. It's time to get this child off the multimillion-dollar merry-go-round and let her rest, be a kid and learn to love golf the way any 16-year-old should: as a game. Over the last month Michelle's mannerisms have begun to show her frustration, not so much on the course (she has played terrifically while perpetually under a microscope) but with the demands away from it. Her expressions are strained, and her temperament is changing under the pressure. Her remaining summer and fall schedule has her making two trips to Europe, for events on the LPGA and European men's tour; another PGA Tour start; endorsement appearances in New York City; and then a final LPGA start in Palm Desert, Calif. In between she'll squeeze in a few trips home to Hawaii for school. Enough already! Her PGA Tour appearances have started to become a sideshow. Michelle and her advisers decided that she'd turn pro last fall; that can't be changed. But she could limit her play to the seven LPGA events permitted under the current rules, enabling her to learn the flavor and art of winning and, above all, to enjoy being a kid. Her bank account may be full, but the robbers are stealing her childhood. It only comes once.
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July 24, 2006

The Pepper Mill

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STOP THE MADNESS
Michelle Wie has become a never-ending topic of conversation for people inside and outside golf; after withdrawing from the John Deere Classic with symptoms of heat exhaustion, she even popped up on a Weather Channel segment about the nation's heat wave. Please. The heat was not the big factor, but the second word describing Michelle's condition should give pause to the people close to her--exhaustion. It's time to get this child off the multimillion-dollar merry-go-round and let her rest, be a kid and learn to love golf the way any 16-year-old should: as a game. Over the last month Michelle's mannerisms have begun to show her frustration, not so much on the course (she has played terrifically while perpetually under a microscope) but with the demands away from it. Her expressions are strained, and her temperament is changing under the pressure. Her remaining summer and fall schedule has her making two trips to Europe, for events on the LPGA and European men's tour; another PGA Tour start; endorsement appearances in New York City; and then a final LPGA start in Palm Desert, Calif. In between she'll squeeze in a few trips home to Hawaii for school. Enough already! Her PGA Tour appearances have started to become a sideshow. Michelle and her advisers decided that she'd turn pro last fall; that can't be changed. But she could limit her play to the seven LPGA events permitted under the current rules, enabling her to learn the flavor and art of winning and, above all, to enjoy being a kid. Her bank account may be full, but the robbers are stealing her childhood. It only comes once.

TRADING UP
The new PGA Tour schedule has two big holes-- Chicago (every other year) and Washington, D.C. It's sad to see golf lose two events (the Western Open and the Booz Allen Classic) with such history and lose two cities with such a passion for the game. The Tour shouldn't sacrifice its tradition for the corporate dollar. On the other hand, the LPGA should seize this opportunity to get back into two key, golf-crazy metropolitan areas.

Dottie Pepper, a 17-year veteran of the LPGA tour and an analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel, welcomes questions at dottie@SIletters.com.

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