Michelle Wie and the Tale of the Tape

Two years ago today, when Michelle Wie came to the U.S. Women’s Open trophy presentation, she was still wearing the Kinesio tape on her legs. But when she stood with the trophy, it was gone.

What happened to it? We have the answer – and reveal her accomplice – here.


If there was one defining characteristic of Michelle Wie’s wardrobe during her triumph at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, it was the Kinesio Tape Wie was wearing to help with the constant leg issues she was dealing with that week and the weeks leading up to it.

Wie was often asked about the tape in media sessions, and it certainly was mentioned on social media throughout the championship.

Then, Wie won, and after signing her scorecard, was ushered to the trophy presentation on the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2. But in the photos there and after, the tape is gone.

So, did Wie take the tape off in the locker room? Maybe the scoring area?


It happened at the trophy presentation, and we caught it with our camera. The trophy presentation was not aired live on NBC, but it’s safe here, and it’s here you’ll see what happened to the tape. (PLAY THE VIDEO ABOVE.)


During the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, Michelle Wie wore Kinesio Tape to help with leg issues she was dealing with. (Photo by the USGA)

OPENING: Setting the stage, let’s identify the key members on the dais. At far left, in her red Team Canada apparel, is sensation Brooke Henderson, who was the low amateur at the championship. Henderson, who recently just won her first major championship, is priceless in this for her reactions to what’s about to happen.

Middle left is Stacy Lewis, who made a tremendous charge on Sunday to put serious pressure on Wie, ultimately finishing as the championship’s runner-up. Finally, there’s Wie and then-USGA President Thomas O’Toole Jr.

On the right side of the dais are more USGA officials as well as Pinehurst officials. More on them in a minute.

:02 SECONDS Wie crosses her left leg over her right, and that’s when Lewis notices the tape is still on. With 11 wins and two major championships, Lewis is accustomed to trophy presentations. She knows Wie won’t want these legacy photographs showing the tape, and so she points it out.

:06 SECONDS Henderson smiles, but Wie is momentarily shaken. If you look closely, you can read lips. She knows Stacy’s right.

:07 SECONDS Wie appears to just rip off the first piece of tape. She makes an audible gasp here because, well, it probably stings. Then she laughs, and it breaks up Lewis and Henderson as well.

:17 SECONDS Wie starts pulling and pulling, and at one point you can see a pink piece of tape. Lewis looks away and laughs as if she can’t believe this is happening. Henderson hasn’t taken her eyes off the craziness since she sat down. Meanwhile, the USGA President is talking, and Wie is worried she’s running out of time.

MichelleWie_Gessner (2) (1280x853)

In John Gessner’s great shot of the trophy presentation, the tape from Michelle Wie’s legs is gone.

:21 SECONDS O’Toole is about to introduce Wie, and Lewis knows it. She casually reaches out her hand to take the tape from Wie, who’s still furiously pulling.

:24 SECONDS Wie’s pulling and pulling and balling up the tape, O’Toole announces her name, and Wie frantically stuffs the tape into Lewis’ hands. Lewis is cracking up at this point, and Wie, so shaken, steps up to O’Toole, who is not ready for her yet.

:28 SECONDS Wie unfolds a piece of paper, likely with notes for what she wants to say at the presentation. But O’Toole turns to her, tells her it’s not time yet, and Wie goes back to her chair, and all three players are on the verge of losing it.

:30 SECONDS Meanwhile, Lewis quickly places the balled-up tape under Wie’s chair, then points down to it with a huge grin on her face to tell Wie where it is. Either that, or she mockingly tells Wie to “SIT DOWN!”

:37 SECONDS Lot of conversation here, and it’s not hard to reason they all thought Wie was supposed to go up. They laugh again, and Lewis buries her head in her left hand. Henderson, not yet on the LPGA Tour, is just soaking this all in.

:41 SECONDS Lewis, again, bails Wie out. She notices MORE tape on Wie’s leg. This time, the process is much more streamlined. Pull tape, Lewis’ hand is out, hand tape to Lewis, ball up tape. Pull more tape, Lewis’ hand is out, hand tape to Lewis, ball up tape. Finally, bend down and drop remaining tape under Wie’s chair.

1 MINUTE It appears they got it all, and just as O’Toole says, “And now the U.S. Women’s Open Championship,” all three players are sitting straight up, and applaud accordingly.

1:12 Crisis averted. Business as usual. Wie has her notes out, and Lewis looks over them. Something on there, though, makes them both laugh.

1:30 On to the presentation, and everything returns to normal presentation stuff. You can view the rest here.

So, what happened to the tape?

Well, it goes back to an old story about former Pinehurst Director of Golf Don Padgett Sr., who on trips around the golf courses, would pick up any stray bit of trash that had escaped carts, golf bags or on-course trash bins. Padgett’s philosophy was a simple one: Leave a place better than you found it. It was a philosophy that applied to everything Padgett did at Pinehurst.

Now, decades later, one of the Pinehurst officials, after the ceremony, walked by Wie’s chair and picked the tape up. Whether that tape will ever join Payne Stewart’s sleeves on display is anyone’s guess.

But it was sure a fun, light moment after two weeks of brilliant championship golf.