I wasn’t aware that Andy Murray has had some work done on his teeth. But apparently he has. Go on, have a look at his smile. His gnashers are all perfectly formed, like the buffed up ivories on Liberace’s piano, and his jubilant beam now just about has the same blinding effect you used to get when the Bee Gees emerged from a scale and polish and grinned into the sun.

This scribe is just jealous, of course. Years of slurping tea, nibbling on custard creams and dousing one’s thrapple with red wine has left the kind of staining you’d get on a freshly creosoted fence.

Given that my mouth consists of rows of unsightly, higgledy-piggledy slabs that resemble those Dragon’s Teeth fortifications that were employed to impede the movement of tanks and mechanised infantry on the Siegfried Line, it’s probably not a dental expert I require, more a heavy artillery bombardment to simply obliterate said fangs and start again.

For Michelle Wie, meanwhile, there hasn’t been much to smile about of late as the withering effects of arthritic wrists and numerous operations continue to take a hefty toll.

Nobody likes watching elite sports men and women toil through the pain brought on by their profession. We all winced along with the aforementioned Murray as his bothersome hip left the celebrated Scot with the kind of limited freedom of movement that only hardline Brexiteers would enjoy.

We all grimaced to the hirplings and hobblings of Tiger Woods as his back continued to crumble like the sills and lintels of a poorly maintained tenement.

And we all lamented the cruelty of life’s cards as crippling back injuries eventually put an end to the swashbuckling exploits and Quixotic quests for glory of the late, great Seve Ballesteros.

Both Murray and Woods, inset, of course, have shown that physical ravages can, for the time being at least, be overcome. Wie will be hoping that her own powers of recovery remain just as robust but it’s a sair auld fecht.

“I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me,” sighed a decidedly downbeat Wie during last weekend’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in which she winced and groaned to excruciating rounds of 84 – her worst on the LPGA Tour – and 82 in her first event for two months.

Confronting athletic decline and squaring up to the prospect of career-ending afflictions is not something any sportsperson wants to face. Ending your playing days on your own terms can be hard enough; being forced to bring the curtain down having been betrayed by your body is a savage reality.

It’s funny to think that Wie, who was playing in leading USGA amateur events at the age of 10, is still only 29. In this game of great longevity, she should be looking to those prosperous peak years, as she stated during an interview earlier this season.

“I don’t think I have reached my full potential yet. Hopefully, the best is yet to come,” she said. Instead, the future is shrouded in uncertainty.

Wie was the child prodigy who was going to exert a Tiger Woods-like dominance over the women’s game. It didn’t quite work out that way, of course.

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Wie was very good, very early and was ranked No.3 in the world by the age of 16. Between the ages of 13 and 16, she had played in 12 major championships and had racked up half a dozen top-five finishes, three of them as an amateur.

In this sobering, capricious pursuit, the gushing adulation of enthusiastic observers swiftly descended into sneering indifference and narrow-eyed cynicism, though.

The Wie phenomenon was an overflowing gravy train and everyone, from sponsors to marketing gurus, wanted to dip their bread in its sloshing excesses.

The weird sideshow of Wie competing against the men, a kind of ghoulish, PT Barnum roll-up, roll-up extravaganza, was an uncomfortable exercise in exploitation that would eventually develop into a dispiriting corporate circus.

It started with the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in her native state in 2004 but, after she turned pro the week before her 16th birthday a year later and signed multi-million dollar contracts with Nike and Sony, the bandwagon rumbled into Europe and the Far East.


Under the constant glare of her parents, BJ and Bo, who seemed to orchestrate her every move and apparently went from overprotective guardians to meddling busybodies, Wie’s cameo appearances made for cringeworthy viewing. The pressure and the scrutiny was remorseless and did nothing for Wie, or the women’s game as a whole.

She was written off and put down even before her career had really been given an opportunity to develop.

The fact that she enjoyed something of a second coming, and claimed her one and only major at the 2014 US Women’s Open, spoke volumes for her drive, determination, desire and unquestionable talent.

In 14 topsy-turvy years as a professional, in which her progress has been hamstrung by niggling injuries and hum-drum spells of form, Wie has won five LPGA Tour titles, including that maiden major.

For many, such a haul would make for a pretty stellar career. For Wie, who has spent almost half her life as a touring pro, it is viewed as a fairly modest return for a player who seemed destined for greatness.

We can all be guilty of expecting too much too soon whenever a prodigious talent emerges on the scene. In the constant, cyclical churn of superstars in waiting and icons for a new age, great expectations are par for the course

If golf teaches us one thing, however, it’s to prepare for a tale of the unexpected.