Altvater: Michelle Wie maturing at Pinehurst in the U.S. Women’s OpenWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Much has been made of the 22 teenagers and 11-year-old Lucy Li in the field this week at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Twenty-four-year-old Michelle Wie is considered to be a grizzled veteran in the women’s game, but may just be rounding into her prime.
Wie started playing competitive golf at a very young age and held the record as the youngest to ever qualify for the match play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 12 in 2000.
In the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship, she became the youngest woman to make the cut in an LPGA Tour event. She posted a 66 in the third round and played in the final group on Sunday while still only 13 years old.
That same year, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and finished T-39. This is her 11th U.S. Women’s Open and it may become her first career major championship victory.
Wie spent a good portion of her early golf career chasing endorsement dollars and playing against the men in PGA Tour events. She became a side show and her true golfing talent was hidden.
When she turned professional in 2006 at the age of 15, she signed mega-endorsement deals with Sony and Nike that have made her a very wealthy young lady.
She only played part time while attending Stanford and graduated one year ago with a major in communications.
Wie struggled through most of 2013. She only had four top-10 finishes in 26 starts and finished No. 41 on the LPGA Tour money list. Putting became an issue and even her superb iron play and length off the tee were not producing low scores.
Playing with a renewed sense of focus and maturity in 2014, Wie won the LPGA Lotte Championship and has eight top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season.
She battled Lexi Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March and finished runner-up.
With $868,000 in total earnings in 2014, she is second to Toledo-born Stacy Lewis in the LPGA Tour’s money list and Race to the CME Globe.
Her success this year is a result of the hard work she put in last year while playing full time on tour and rekindling the enjoyment she receives from playing professional golf.
She has been a student of famed golf guru, David Leadbetter, for many years and her swing right now is the most technically sound of any player in the game, man or woman.
Much has been expected from Wie throughout her golf career thus far. It seems she has been around the game of golf forever, but she is just 24 years old.
Maturity both physically and mentally must come together for a golfer to reach his or her maximum ability.
After 36 holes at Pinehurst, she is four-under-par and leads the U.S. Women’s Open by three shots over Thompson.
Maybe she is like the flower just beginning to blossom and find her full potential this week in Pinehurst at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and information were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials provided by the USGA, the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour or the PGA of America.