Finding redemption, Michelle Wie now goes for pinnacle of Women’s Open

By most accounts, she was a busted flush, a spent force, a has-been in her sport. The rot had set in with a string of injuries, missed cuts, suspicious withdrawals and disqualifications. As far as everyone was concerned, she was history – at the age of 17.
Shanghai night field

It was 2007, and the 13-year-old Michelle Wie’s sensational 2003 breakthrough at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she had played in the final group and finished ninth, was a quickly fading memory. She had kicked on for a couple of years, signed contracts worth an estimated $10 million on the day she turned professional, but her career had hit the skids. It was a classic tale of too much too young for the Hawaiian teenager.

At least it was then. Today, it is a far more compelling story of redemption and recovery, as Wie has come back from that period a stronger, smarter and more self-reliant player. She is far more comfortable with her fellow players than she once was. Since her move to Florida two years ago, a good many of them have become her neighbours, a significant few her friends.

Stacy Lewis ticks both boxes. The world No. 1 admits she and Wie have little in common – ”Michelle is a kind of artsy, goofy person, and I’m definitely not that.” But there is real warmth between the two women now.

”Now she hangs out with players more and she gets out and goes for dinner with people instead of just sticking with her team all the time,” Lewis says. ”That’s when it all changed, I think.”

Lewis comes to this week’s Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale as reigning champion. She is the hottest player on the planet, but even she concedes that Wie, 24, is the more significant figure.

Wie’s victory at last month’s US Open at Pinehurst (Lewis finished second) confirmed that her recovery was complete, and Lewis has the grace to acknowledge that it can only be good for the sport.

”Everybody expects her to be on the leaderboard. You expect her to be there on Sunday and I think she expects that of herself, too.”

Wie has cut a careworn figure at this event in the past, but this year she has come to Southport with a smile on her face.

For years she had wondered what winning a major would feel like, and now she knows.

”I felt like a doughnut fresh out of the fryer,” Wie beamed. ”Rolling around in the sugar.”

Telegraph, London

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation