PHOENIX – Michelle Wie has enough money. She could’ve walked away from this game years ago with a good career. Not the kind everyone expected of course, but certainly memorable enough.
The injuries have been relentless. The criticism widespread. The expectations, at times, off the charts.
And yet here she is at age 28, having reinvented herself for the umpteenth time, on the verge something quite possibly, hopefully … great.
“I always think the best is in front of me,” said Wie at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, her first start since winning for the first time in four years in Singapore. “That’s why I practice and work so hard.”
Still, she had a warning for her team after winning the HSBC Women’s World Championship: “Simmer down on the hype.”
She wants to stay quiet and let her game shine.
Wie, a five-time winner on the LPGA, remains dedicated to the cause. So much so that she’s getting routine collagen injections in both wrists to treat arthritis. She went to New York after Singapore for treatment and didn’t start hitting balls again until last Sunday.
“I’ve been getting cortisone over the last couple years,” said Wie, “and I am now at the point where I can’t get any more cortisone in those areas. So I found my doctors in New York and we’ve been doing this more natural injection, more of a collagen injection, trying to recreate some cartilage, more space in my joints. It’s been really helping.”
Because collagen is a naturally occurring substance in the body, Wie said, there are no limits on how many injections she can receive.
Down periods have been a part of Wie’s career for more than a decade. Most of those can be traced back to health issues. Mental fortitude might be one of the most overrated traits of her game.
“I think when I was younger and I was playing really well at a really young age, I just saw my life at this trajectory,” said Wie, motioning upward with her hand. “I think the first down really shocked me. I took it really hard and it wasn’t easy. Then you start to realize that life doesn’t really happen that way. You start to hear about other people going through injuries and stuff like that. Then you see some people and their life seems so easy. Everyone has their own struggles. I think my struggles have just been very publicized and very public.”
Wie draws from the knowledge that she has pulled herself out of a valley time and time again. That being said, her main goal for 2018 is to simply stay healthy enough compete. (That’s actually been an annual goal for some time now.) Wie has four WDs and three DNPs (did not play) at the majors in the past five years. She hasn’t made the cut in every major of a season since 2011.
“I always feel like I’m a race horse,” she said. “I’m trying so hard, I work so hard, and then I can’t. Then I have to play off 70 percent, you know, and really just worry about how many balls I’m hitting and count the number of balls, tournaments I can play. I just want to be able to work as hard as I can and grind as hard as I want to and play as many tournaments as I want to. I just want to be able to play unrestricted, per se.”
Juli Inkster makes her 2018 debut this week but has followed Wie’s swing progress on Instagram.
“I think her swing looks amazing,” said Inkster. “So much more fluid and rhythmatic. I think she’s in a really god spot right now, mentally too.”
Everybody loves a good comeback story. Look no further than the madness surrounding Tiger Woods’ resurgence.
“You have to give it to her,” said longtime coach David Leadbetter. “She has never doubted herself.”