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The wonder of Michelle Wie

By Christina MacFarlane, CNN
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Meet Michelle Wie
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The 2009 Solheim Cup marked a turning point for Wie
  • Michelle Wie is currently 10th in the World Golf Rankings
  • Wie says the LPGA will bounce back from a difficult year
RELATED TOPICS
  • LPGA Tour
  • Lorena Ochoa
  • PGA Tour

London, England (CNN) -- The downfall of Tiger Woods has left the golf world eager for an uplifting story, and arguably there are few better placed to provide this tale than 20-year-old Michelle Wie.

The women's game may struggle to compete with the men's in terms of profile, but if there is any player who could help to bridge this gap it is the Stanford University student from Hawaii.

The expectation on Wie has always been great after she amazed the sport by qualifying for the USGA amateur championship aged just 10. She went onto become the youngest player ever to qualify for the LPGA Tour and became a millionaire 10 times over by signing sponsorship deals with both Sony and Nike after turning professional aged 16.

The similarities with Tiger Woods were clear for all to see. Her fame grew as she persisted to compete in men's competitions while suffering inconsistent form at women's events, but she had to wait until 2009 to capture her first LPGA title.

With her victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and starring role in the 2009 Solheim Cup, Michelle Wie has once again captivated fans and gone some way to reassure doubters that she still has the potential to become a major force in women's golf.

With the 2010 LPGA season due to tee off next month, Living Golf caught up with Wie to discuss her plans for the year ahead in work and play:

"I love what I do. Once my college work is done, I get to go out and focus on my golf. Academically right now, I'm a sophomore, but I'm in my third year, so hopefully I'll finish in five years or so," she told CNN.

Once my college work is done, I get to go out and focus on my golf. Academically right now, I'm a sophomore
--Michelle Wie

Like many students her age, friends play an important role: "They bring me down to earth you know. They always make fun of me and they don't know what I do, they don't know what a par is. Basically I tell them, if my scores look red, you can call me, if my scores look black, then I might not be in such a good mood so don't talk to me!"

The Solheim Cup marked a turning point for Wie, proving she could hit shots beyond her female counterparts. Wie says it was an unforgettable experience: "It was such a great experience, I've always heard that rumor that, the American team doesn't bond as well as the European team, but I felt that we just bonded so well and had so much fun -- I really enjoyed every second of it."

Despite this, there still remains a cloud of disapproval over the way in which Wie has conducted herself throughout her career. Entering her first PGA Tour event at the tender age of 14, her attempts and failures to make it on the men's tour have drawn criticism from players and fans. So does she regret these early decisions?

"No, I don't think so. I think that every decision that I've made in my life, at the time seemed like a great decision ... the mistakes that I've made, I've definitely learned from them. But you know, I enjoyed myself and I really had a lot of fun."

While the sun shone on Michelle Wie in 2009, the LPGA experienced a difficult year. Like the men's Tour, financial crisis saw sponsors and media pull out -- and a seriously diminished schedule of events for 2010 led to the dismissal of LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. Despite the turmoil, Wie feels the tour will bounce back:

"I just think that we have such a strong product, you know the players are amazing, we have different personalities, its so global, so international -- there's so many ethnicities which gives us more opportunity to be in different countries that never really had golf before."

As she looks ahead to this year, Wie's resolve remains clear: to build on her new found confidence and success: "I want to show my fans and my country what I have."