Fearless Michelle Wie West prepared for one last bash at Pebble Beach

John Craven

Michelle Wie West (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One of the most famous careers in professional golf is about to draw to a close as Michelle Wie West tees up in her final tournament at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.

A groundbreaking golfer, Wie West’s prodigious talents saw her compete at her first USGA Championship aged just 10, unsurprisingly becoming the youngest player ever to do so.

Such an achievement set the tone for a journey that brought her to Stanford University in 2007 where she was unable to compete for the college team because she’d already turned pro.


By that time, Wie West was the youngest player to ever compete at an LPGA Tour event, the youngest player to win an adult USGA event and perhaps most notably, the youngest woman ever to compete on the PGA Tour.

And compete she did, at just 14-years young, where a second round 68 at the Sony Open saw Wie West miss the cut amongst the men by an agonising single stroke in Hawaii.

Make no mistake, there was a time that Wie West was the Tiger Woods of the women’s game. When she turned pro in 2005, she signed with Nike in a deal reported to be worth $10m a year.

Yet for all her promise and talent, Wie West’s career didn’t quite translate into the number of titles you’d expect. The American claimed five LPGA crowns, no mean feat, including one U.S. Open triumph and while many would’ve expected more, Wie West leaves the pro ranks with no regrets having trail-blazed a path for women golfers at every opportunity during a remarkable career inside the ropes.

“I think one word that comes to mind: Bold,” Wie West said from Pebble Beach on Tuesday when asked to describe her career. “Made a lot of bold choices in my career, and I’m proud of it. I’m proud of being fearless at times and just doing what felt right.

“I hope that I inspire a lot of other girls to make bold and fearless decisions and choices in their careers, as well.”

On retirement, why now you might ask? Still just 33, Wie West admits her competitive juices simply aren’t flowing like they once did as she steps away from the game.

“When you’re a professional athlete, the highs are so high, and the lows are so low,” she explains. “Honestly for the past year, I haven’t felt that highs of high, but I also haven’t felt the lows of low.

“It’s strange. It’s strange to have every day be somewhat mundane. You go out there and you eat three meals, you take care of your daughter, and at night you watch Netflix. It’s just every day is okay.”

Instead, Wie West is looking for a new challenge, one that will hopefully see her continue the legacy of the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour, and one that will continue to drive the women’s game to new heights.

“I continue to want to help the Tour grow female sports in general, and do everything in my power to keep empowering the women, closing the pay gap, whether it’s in sports and out of sports,” she says.

“I always feel like the LPGA being founded by 13 women. It’s important that we are an organisation founded by women. It’s extremely important, and we continually have to keep pushing the boundaries, keep sometimes creating uncomfortable situations and pushing through it so that women and corporations can follow along.”

Before taking aim at her post-playing career, Wie West has a hopeful four rounds to look forward to at one of the game’s most iconic venues, and like any true competitor, her visions of bowing out have always included a 72nd hole walk in the last group on Sunday at Pebble Beach.

“I’ve definitely thought about the final walk, and gosh, I hope it’s in the final group with everyone watching. That would just be so incredible,” she says. “I’ve definitely dreamt of it, thought about it, and I can’t believe it’s only a few days away.”

“It’s crazy. When I made the announcement last year, even still it was like, oh, I’m transitioning out, but I have Pebble. Now I don’t have anything in the foreseeable future, so it’s definitely an emotional week for me. I just realised everything I’m doing I’m doing for the last time. The putting drills that I’m doing, you’d best believe I’m not going to do another putting drill for the rest of my life if I don’t need to.

“So all that stuff I’m doing for the last time, the last practice rounds, getting the line, writing in my yardage book. It’s a pretty cool feeling, and I feel incredibly blessed. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, and incredibly blessed for the journey that I have and the family that I’ve built.

“It’s just a really cool week to be here.”

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