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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 6, 2005

Wie takes first steps in a brilliant career

 •  Banking on a one-and-only
 •  World watches Wie begin 'new journey'
 •  Wie will have target on her back

Hawai'i is thrilled by the unprecedented success of teenage golfing phenomenon Michelle Wie, who took the great leap yesterday into the realm of professional sports. The high stakes for the 15-year-old star: incredible wealth to gain and personal privacy to lose.

Even before her decision to turn professional, she has shouldered a lot more responsibility than have her friends. The globetrotting and the TV interviews all fall far beyond the boundaries of the typical teenage experience. That undoubtedly has prepared her somewhat for the world of professional agents and corporate management.

But now she has all but yielded what's left of her childhood, with the exception of whatever her family can safeguard over the next few years. The price of this stunning financial windfall from her professional sponsors is the sacrifice of a certain freedom to do as she pleases without the glare of the media spotlight.

While the gloves now rightly come off in the public critique of her athletic performance, she still deserves some allowances in her personal development that adults must make for adolescents. Every parent who has watched Michelle in media coverage recognizes elements of their own children in her charmingly youthful reactions and expressions.

Despite the glittering gown at the awards gala, despite the grownup, elite field in which she competes, she's still a kid.

And while these parents and her fans gaze at the lucrative rewards of her achievement with admiration and envy, there's also hope that Michelle will mature with a clear realization that she's a role model and ambassador for her home state.

She's navigating uncharted waters, and deserves our understanding and support. She is indeed an inspiration to others reaching for the brass ring.