Still winless since '14 U.S. Women's Open victory, Michelle Wie remains a mystery

Still winless since '14 U.S. Women's Open victory, Michelle Wie remains a mystery

LPGA Tour

Still winless since '14 U.S. Women's Open victory, Michelle Wie remains a mystery

By

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Michelle Wie remains a mystery out here. A brief, but pleasant press conference with Wie at the 71st U.S. Women’s Open, didn’t provide many answers.

Wie’s results this year are stunning: In 16 starts, she has cashed a check only seven times. Her best finish – T-25 at the Coates Golf Championship – came in February.

“It’s a very hard game sometimes … brutal game,” Wie said.

Her smile, at times, looks understandably forced. It’s not easy to step on the dais and talk about what could have been. What should have been. Pinehurst was supposed to open the proverbial floodgates. Two years later, Wie seems lost.

“I’ve just been trying to build confidence,” she said, vowing to turn it around.

Wie still grinds at it. The scene on the practice tee with swing coach David Leadbetter and her parents hasn’t changed in more than a decade. Neither really, have the disappointments.

The 2015 season – what should’ve been a build-up from her 2014 USWO victory – became a health crisis. Will she tee it up? If she does, can she finish?

It was a familiar and tired storyline.

Last year’s boot on the left foot was replaced by a neck brace in April to combat muscle spasms.

“The list goes on,” she said.

Wie wouldn’t elaborate on what has ailed her of late, but Leadbetter said she received a cortisone shot in her left wrist after missing the cut two weeks ago in Arkansas. He jokingly told Wie and Danielle Kang that they should open a hospital together and call it “Wie Kang Fix You.”

On a serious note, Leadbetter has a simple theory on why Wie has been so prone to injuries throughout her career.

“When you’re smashing golf balls from 5 or 6 years old and your body is not really dialed in to do that, you probably at some stage down the road are going to suffer the consequences,” he said, calling Wie’s situation a lesson for all young players.

Wie actually enters this week’s USWO painfree. Leadbetter called it a “bout of wellness.”

She’s hitting it solidly on the range, which isn’t unusual. The question, of course, is whether or not she can muster the confidence.

Stacy Lewis, winless in two years, recently watched videos of her past triumphs to see what might have changed. Wie said she looks at clips on YouTube from time to time.

“You forget,” she said. “You definitely forget how good you are.”

Getting back to the 2014 swing, she said, has been her No. 1 priority. Wie won twice that season and finished fourth on the LPGA money list. She still believes there’s momentum to build on, that success in this game comes in waves and she can catch another one and ride it to glory.

Wie is an old 26. Her body is failing her, and one has to wonder how much longer she will desire to put in the work required to remain competitively relevant on an LPGA tour that’s dominated by teens.

“It’d just be so nice for her to have a really solid tournament,” Leadbetter said. “You could say, Oh, it would be great for her to win it, but you’ve got to be realistic.”

Ariya Jutanugarn, now the No. 7 player in the world, said Wie is the only person on the range who can make her stop and stare.

That part won’t ever change.

Wie still grinds at it. The scene on the practice tee with swing coach David Leadbetter and her parents hasn’t changed in more than a decade. Neither really, have the disappointments.

The 2015 season – what should’ve been a build-up from her 2014 USWO victory – became a health crisis. Will she tee it up? If she does, can she finish?

It was a familiar and tired storyline.

Last year’s boot on the left foot was replaced by a neck brace in April to combat muscle spasms.

“The list goes on,” she said.

Wie wouldn’t elaborate on what has ailed her of late, but Leadbetter said she received a cortisone shot in her left wrist after missing the cut two weeks ago in Arkansas. He jokingly told Wie and Danielle Kang that they should open a hospital together and call it “Wie Kang Fix You.”

On a serious note, Leadbetter has a simple theory on why Wie has been so prone to injuries throughout her career.

“When you’re smashing golf balls from 5 or 6 years old and your body is not really dialed in to do that, you probably at some stage down the road are going to suffer the consequences,” he said, calling Wie’s situation a lesson for all young players.

Wie actually enters this week’s USWO painfree. Leadbetter called it a “bout of wellness.”

She’s hitting it solidly on the range, which isn’t unusual. The question, of course, is whether or not she can muster the confidence.

Stacy Lewis, winless in two years, recently watched videos of her past triumphs to see what might have changed. Wie said she looks at clips on YouTube from time to time.

“You forget,” she said. “You definitely forget how good you are.”

Getting back to the 2014 swing, she said, has been her No. 1 priority. Wie won twice that season and finished fourth on the LPGA money list. She still believes there’s momentum to build on, that success in this game comes in waves and she can catch another one and ride it to glory.

Wie is an old 26. Her body is failing her, and one has to wonder how much longer she will desire to put in the work required to remain competitively relevant on an LPGA tour that’s dominated by teens.

“It’d just be so nice for her to have a really solid tournament,” Leadbetter said. “You could say, Oh, it would be great for her to win it, but you’ve got to be realistic.”

Ariya Jutanugarn, now the No. 7 player in the world, said Wie is the only person on the range who can make her stop and stare.

That part won’t ever change.

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