Whither Wie?


Michelle Wie can be excused for not performing quite as well as many observers predicted. After all, the native of Hawaii has been competing on the LPGA Tour while taking a full class-load at Stanford. With its incredibly high academic standards the school in Palo Alto, Calif., is not exactly Podunk U and a place where Wie could skate through while also dallying in golf.

The 6'1" 22-year-old has completed - and passed - all of her classes in Communications, and will graduate on time in four years. With that accomplishment in mind, golf fans might cut the former teenage phenom some slack for her recent average performances on the golf course.

With Stanford behind her, other than attending the graduation ceremony in June, Wie can now focus on golf. Thus relieved of her academic obligations she's set her sights on winning her first major title in this week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, which starts Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

After becoming the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship and later the youngest player - male or female - to win an USGA adult event, the 2003 Women's Amateur Public Links, Wie has experienced a checkered professional career. Yet she's won twice on the LPGA, with her last victory coming in the 2010 Canadian Women's Open.

She's now thrilled to be able to concentrate on one subject. "I'm really excited," Wie said Tuesday. "You know, to be able to get my degree and to actually finish . . . I think it was just such a big goal of mine, and I'm so proud of myself for sticking with it.

"But I'm also more than ready just to jump in full speed ahead with golf, and I'm really looking forward to the season, and just to have time to practice more, work out more, rest more, and on the upcoming year," she added. "I'm so glad I did it. I think I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, and I'm so happy with my choice."

Here's what else Wie told reporters during her Tuesday sit-down with reporters.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Michelle Wie to the interview room at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship. I think it's pretty good timing here with the airing of your Feherty episode on flanking the stage here. Let's start off with that. What was that like to have David Feherty at Stanford University?

MICHELLE WIE: It was awesome. You know, it was just such a fun day. I've heard so much about him. I've seen shows, and it was awesome. I was absolutely honored to be on the show, to be invited to be on it, and just allowing someone on the outside to get a glimpse of what I go through every day, it was an absolute treat. I don't think a lot of people get to see it, and it was really nice to have it on film before I graduated, and it was a lot of fun. I can't believe he jumped into the (indiscernible) like that. It was crazy.

Q. A lot of people know Michelle Wie between the ropes but they don't know you outside the ropes. You've gone through four and a half years of college, well documented that you've kind of branched out, graduation is upcoming in June. Talk about your outlook for the rest of the season and whether you feel like college was the right choice for you.

MICHELLE WIE: I'm really excited. You know, to be able to get my degree and to actually finish, got my grades in today, passed some of my classes. You know, I think it was just such a big goal of mine, and I'm so proud of myself for sticking with it. But I'm also more than ready just to jump in full speed ahead with golf, and I'm really looking forward to the season, and just to have time to practice more, work out more, rest more, and on the upcoming year. I'm so glad I did it. I think I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, and I'm so happy with my choice.

Q. Pretty good resumé for a 22-year-old. When you leave college and go full time on the LPGA, what's going to be the main goal for you?

MICHELLE WIE: You know, obviously I want to win more. I mean, that's a big thing. I feel like it's been pretty mediocre so far. I want to - I want to be the best player that I can be and the best in general, and obviously it's going to be - it's going to be a fun ride from here on out. I'm kind of entering the real world, as you may say. But I'm just really excited to actually really be able to do all those things and try as hard as I can.

Q. A part time resident of the desert area, some great memories for you here, especially as a youngster. Just talk about what it means to come back to the Kraft Nabisco and kind of what goes through your head as you walk onto the grounds here.

MICHELLE WIE: It was crazy. I just talked to Mike Ritz and he just reminded me I played in my first Kraft nine years ago. It's absolutely ridiculous to think about that. It's amazing my first experience here playing the final round with Patricia and Annika. It was an amazing experience. I have a lot of good experiences here, but I'm more about creating new ones. I want to create new memories, and that's why I'm so excited to play this week, especially coming off a very tough week the last couple weeks. I'm ready to turn things around and play a lot better.

Q. Can you talk about what it'll make maybe I should say, how you will be able to get over the hump to be the winner that you want to be now that you've learned throughout the years what it takes out here?

MICHELLE WIE: You know, obviously hard work and all of that is a big factor in it. I think a big thing for me is trying not to over think it, trying not to over try. I think that's been a big thing of mine, just to play like I used to, just carefree and just go out and grip it and rip it kind of thing. That's what David and I have been working on, especially today, just to trust myself, trust my instincts and go out there and have fun. I think obviously the hard work and everything will pay off, but I think mostly just playing with your instincts.

Q. You've had some very good performances here, could have maybe even won it a couple of times, unless people were holing wedges on you from the middle of the 18th. What about this golf course has suited your game through the years?

MICHELLE WIE: I just like this golf course. I like desert golf. I think Dinah Shore has been one of those golf courses that I kind of grew up on over the last couple years, and it's a fun golf course. Obviously if you don't play well, it can bite you. But you've got to hit it in the fairway here, got to put it on the right part of the green and got to play it smart. It's a major, so pars are good, birdies are great, and got to go out there and keep kind of trucking along.

Q. Because you've played here and come so close, do you feel like this is a tournament that you're going to win someday?

MICHELLE WIE: I mean, I hope to say that about every major. Definitely this is one tournament that would mean a lot to me if I won, and obviously it would mean the world to me. That's what I play for. But like I said, it's a long way to Sunday, and you can't really think about that right now. All I'm thinking about is just shot by shot and going out there on Thursday, posting a score, and kind of taking it on from there.

Q. I was so impressed in your Solheim play. I think how you played at Solheim is crazy, even in that loss. You had the spirit of the USA team in your heart. Can you keep that emotional high at other tournaments for a long time or is the Solheim so special that you go to a different level?

MICHELLE WIE: I think all of us will agree that you go to another level at Solheim, when you're put in that situation. When you play for your country, when you play for your team, it makes you a different person. I think we all try to bring it on at other tournaments. I'm there. I'm there in the other tournaments, but it's just not the same. But Solheim is - that's why Solheim is special. That's why we look forward to it every two years. It's so intense. I think Match Play also brings that out, and I think playing for your country, I think it really brings that out of me. But I do try to bring that out in every tournament, no matter how big or small. I might not be as loud as at Solheim, but I do try to bring that spirit everywhere I go.

Q. I may not look like a novice golfer, but I am, and I've noticed trying to pick up tips that the women golfers seem to have purer swings than the men, that they play better and I can learn more watching them than I can watching the men, and I want to know if you can tell me why.

MICHELLE WIE: Oh, I mean, I don't know. I don't know. I really like - I feel like the LPGA over the years has gotten so much more entertaining. Every tournament the competition level has gone up. Every week there's more people in contention the final round, and I think it makes it more exciting to watch. I'm not sure what people think when they watch us swing, if they learn a lot. I mean, I don't know.

Q. In the last couple of seasons there's been a number of teenagers who have enjoyed some great success, which was assumed would belong to you. Has there been any - has that caused any second guessing, a feeling of urgency, a frustration on your part?

MICHELLE WIE: Like why?

Q. The teenage success and the mark that's being left by them, it was assumed that it would belong to you first.

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think that age isn't really important anymore. I think that when I came out, there was a lot of buzz because I was the youngest one or youngest one to do this, youngest one in the field, but that's not the case anymore. As you see, obviously Yani is really young. Age is not a factor anymore. I think when I go out there I don't think about how old a player is. The game has gotten a lot younger, and I do feel the urgency to be better, to play better, but that's not really because of my age. I just want to play better no matter how old I am. And I think it's great that the game has gotten a lot younger.

Q. With college behind you, is there any plans, or maybe you already have that I'm not aware of, to have your own place, buy a house, have your own base?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I'm going to base myself in Jupiter.

Q. When is that going to happen?

MICHELLE WIE: That happened last year.

Q. Is that news?

MICHELLE WIE: No, it's not news.

Q. Yani has won 15 tournaments in the last 13 and a half months, 10 of them LPGA events. Has she had any effect on you as far as preparing for a tournament or as far as scoreboard watching or as far as knowing that you have to beat her if you're going to win the tournament? Has she had a Tiger effect?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think that Yani is an amazing player. I think what she has done over the last 13 months, winning 10 LPGA tournaments is amazing. It's an amazing feat. I think no one cay say otherwise. She's the best player in the world right now, and I think obviously people do look at her and try to beat her. Me personally, I think that I see that in the back of my mind, but I try not to. You can't really focus on all the other players, and you really just have to focus on yourself. When you try to beat someone in particular or try to follow that player, you kind of lose sight of what you have to do, and I've been really just trying to focus on my game and trying to get there.

Q. What are you going to miss the most about Stanford?

MICHELLE WIE: I've been thinking a lot about that recently. I think just my friends that were there, just the whole environment of college. I think everyone that has graduated will know that it was the best four years of your life. You know, you learn so much about yourself. You make so many amazing friends. You just have so many good experiences that you just keep with you for the rest of your life, and you can always bring it. Hopefully 20 years from now I'll still remember that. But I think if anything the whole environment. I owe a lot to them. I owe a lot to Stanford, actually.

Q. Putting, you've made a switch, I guess, short putter?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's been back and forth for quite a long time, which I don't like doing, but I had to find something comfortable. I'm back to my old putter, and it's feeling better.

Q. Is there anything in particular? Is it mental do you think mostly, the putting?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I worked a lot with David today, and like I said earlier, I have to trust my instincts. Sometimes I have a very large tendency to over think and try too hard, and putting is one of those things that can not work so well when you try too hard. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is try less, and that's what I'm trying to do with my putting is just go out there and hit it.

Q. Do you consider this to be the Masters of your Tour, this tournament, and also, what would it mean to be able to - with the history and tradition of the Kraft, to put this one on your mantle?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes, I think so. With the tradition that has been here with Poppies Pond and the past champions, all the traditions here, it's just like it. It's one of the most coveted majors, and it would mean absolutely the world to me to jump in that pond.

Q. What would be the best graduation present you could get?

MICHELLE WIE: The best graduation I can get is winning this week, actually.

MODERATOR: On that note, good luck. Thanks for coming in.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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