Baugh advises Wie to learn to win

Updated: May 24, 2004, 4:12 PM ET
By Greg Hardwig | Scripps Howard News Service

NAPLES, Fla. -- Laura Baugh has some advice for Michelle Wie. And Wie may want to take a listen.

After all, just over 30 years ago, Baugh was Michelle Wie. She wasn't from Hawaii, wasn't 6-feet tall, and wasn't playing in men's professional events. But Baugh was the talk of the women's golf world as a teenager. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur as a 16-year-old, and qualified for the LPGA Tour when she was 17.

Baugh believes Wie can be one of the best women's golfers ever. Even better than the current top player, Annika Sorenstam, who a year ago was playing in a PGA Tour event and just missing the cut.

"If (Wie) was 5-4, she would be like many of the other superstars that we have here, good golf swings, but 5-4,'' Baugh said last weel at Imperial Golf Club, where she shot a 77 and narrowly failed to advance out of the U.S. Women's Open local qualifier. "There's been a lot of big girls on tour, but they didn't have great golf swings and the passion that she does.''

But Baugh, 48, also believes the 14-year-old has some learning to do. As in learning how to win.

"If she doesn't learn to win, I think it could be a negative,'' Baugh said "I think they should put her in some tournaments that she walks.

"I really think that's there's something to that _ Tiger Woods winning everything as a junior, everything as an amateur. There's that arrogance; I don't mean that in a bad way. There's that confidence.''

Baugh had that confidence when she made it on the LPGA Tour. And she could see it on this week as a bevy of teenagers took a shot at making the U.S. Women's Open.

"When you're 17 and 18, you just expect to win everything,'' Baugh said.

Baugh had some good seasons on the LPGA Tour, but finishing second became a trend.

"You can forget how to win,'' she said. "I won everything when I came out. I thought I should win everything. Over a period of time, I got used to finishing well, but not winning.''

Baugh hasn't played competitively on a regular basis in years. But with the last of her seven children in first grade, she has devoted more time to playing the game she loves but despises at the same time. She plans on playing in the Women's Senior Golf Tour's two events. The WSGT's minimum age is 45.

"Oh, I love to play. I just don't like to play badly,'' said Baugh, who has some upcoming TV duties, the Corning Classic on the LPGA Tour, and the men's British Open for TNT.

"That's the problem with having been blessed and having played well, I have no patience for bad golf out of me. I have patience for bad golf out of young people, or my children.''

Contact Greg Hardwig at gshardwig@naplesnews.com.

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