Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow are both in action at this week’s LPGA Kia Classic where the spotlight is sure to hover over the head of 31-year old Michelle Wie who returns to the sport after the birth of her first child, Makenna.
Cavan professional Maguire is out first thing in California looking to build on a superb start to the season that has seen her enjoy a share of 16th at the Gainbridge LPGA before grabbing a first top-10 with a tie for 6th at the Drive On Championship.
Meadow, meanwhile, bounced back from a missed cut at the Gainbridge with a tied-34th result at the Drive On and after two weeks of practice, both players would’ve arrived in Carlsbad feeling fresh and ready to go as the season ramps up ahead of the year’s first Major at the ANA Inspiration next week.
Michelle Wie West also has the ANA firmly in her sights as she returns to action for the first time in nearly two years. Inspired by watching Tiger Woods and his son Charlie at last year’s PNC Championship, Wie is more determined than ever to impress her young family and prove that she still has what it takes to compete at the very top of the women’s game.
“I’m just fortunate enough and grateful that I have the opportunity to come back out here and play, especially with having maternity leave and all that,” said Wie, who only travelled to Carlsbad from her home in San Francisco because she was able to avoid flying.
“I’m still deciding about that just because of the baby, I just don’t know with Covid about flying yet with her. So there are a lot of things to think about. But I also love the west coast swing, I love Carlsbad, I love this golf course, and I especially love next week.
“The ANA Inspiration has always been a very, very special tournament to me to be at Mission Hills, so that was a big goal for me to get ready for that. Obviously going back home and playing in Hawaii is also a big goal. It’s so long since I played a competitive round. But I’m pretty proud of myself for grinding it out there. I’ve been grinding. Like I said, I’m just grateful I’m out here. I’m enjoying myself and having a lot of fun.
“I’m definitely nervous, but also grateful to feel nervous again. The first time I felt nerves like this, you know, I said before being on live TV was the closest thing I felt to feeling the first tee jitters. I’m excited out there and to be nervous tomorrow. I can feel it brewing already, and already a lot of fun.”
Wie admitted that she was unsure whether she’d ever return to the LPGA Tour again after having her first child almost two years ago but it’s the dangling carrot of one day maybe sharing the fairway with her now nine month old Makenna that injected a new energy into her career.
“After the KPMG in 2019 I thought I was done, especially when I found out I was pregnant later that year,” she added, having missed the cut at 22-over at the KPMG. “I thought that cemented it. I thought there was no chance of coming back, and I told my husband that. He was like, ‘No, no, just think it through’. Then we found out that Makenna was going to be a girl and that just changed my perspective of everything. It was crazy how just that one little fact just changes everything.
“Then I started to think, I kind of want to do it. I want to show her in real time that I can play golf. It’s one thing to have her watch YouTube videos, but it’s another thing to have her watch me with her own eyes. Seeing me go out there, it work out hard, and try to lead by example. That moment that Tiger had with Charlie, that is the first thing that popped to my mind and that’s been a huge motivation and that’s been a new dream of mine.”