Feb 26th, 2019
Michelle Wie eyes World Number 1 spot
Now injury-free, it's game on...
Will Michelle Wie ever realise the great expectations placed at her golf shoes? Well, a rebuilt wrist and remodelled swing have her believing just that. In fact, Michelle is convinced she can reach the pinnacle of golf's world rankings for the first time as she sets out to defend her title at the 'Asian Major' this week.
"Being number one in the world is the most important thing to me," said the 29-year-old American ahead of the US$1.5 million HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore which begins on Thursday (Feb 28) and features the world's top 20 players.
A year ago Singapore's Sentosa Golf Club was the scene of one of Wie's greatest triumphs, but she ended the season undergoing surgery on a painful wrist that caused her to withdraw during the British Open in August.
Wie had been battling arthritis in both wrists and since the operation last October has reconfigured her swing to limit the pain and prevent long-term damage.
"Definitely after surgery, it's taken me a long road to be here today," Wie said.
"I am using a little bit more wrist than I did last year but substantially less than I have before, but it's all about trying to be as pain-free as possible."
Wie returned at last week's LPGA Thailand, finishing in a tie for 23rd at six-under-par - 16 strokes behind the winner Amy Yang of South Korea.
"It felt SO GOOD to be back out there playing golf again," Wie posted on Instagram before flying to Singapore, where 12 months earlier she sealed a one-stroke win with an astonishing 45-foot birdie putt on the last hole followed by an emotional scream and a fist pump.
"That whole day, I was behind," recalled Wie of her first title since the 2014 US Women's Open which remains her only major victory.
"I knew I had to make birdies and then I was on the last hole, and I saw the big leaderboard on the 18th. I was like 'Wow! if I birdie this hole ... I could possibly win. I knew I had to make it. I hit the ball pretty hard. I was like I'm not leaving this short. It was a lot of emotions and it was pretty awesome."
But despite huge publicity and multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, Wie had limited success as the constant pressure and a succession of injuries took their toll.
"Everything that's happened in the past, good or bad, has shaped me," said Wie. "I feel like I've dealt with a lot of things."
The 2014 season finally saw her fulfil her early promise with wins at the US Open and LPGA Lotte Championship, 11 other top-10 finishes and a rise to a career-high fifth in the world rankings.
The injury layoff has seen Wie's world ranking slip to 32 but the American has set her sights firmly on getting to the top.
"Hopefully the best is yet to come," Wie said. "I don't think that I have reached my full potential."
And Another Thing...