Michelle Wie, in Pain After Shooting an 84, Suggests Her Career May End Soon


CHASKA, Minn. — Arthritic wrists kept Michelle Wie out of competition for two months ahead of the Women’s P.G.A. Championship. She resumed hitting golf balls only a week before tackling the host course, Hazeltine National Golf Club, preparation that she acknowledged was far from ideal.

But after struggling to a 12-over-par 84 in the first round on Thursday, Wie, one of the most prominent players in the history of the women’s game, was forced to confront an even harder truth.

“I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me,” the 29-year-old Wie said, choking back tears. “So even on the bad days, I’m just like trying to take time to enjoy it. But it’s tough, I just love being out here.”

Wie was speaking outside the clubhouse, sheltered from a cold rain that had started during her second nine, adding to her misery.

She had played the last few holes applying an ice pack to her right wrist between shots to numb the pain. Grouped with Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee, Wie started on the 10th hole with a bogey, and then had two more bogeys to go with two double bogeys and two birdies on her first nine. Her final nine included three bogeys and a quadruple bogey, on the par-3 eighth hole.

On a day when only 16 players broke par, Hannah Green of Australia shot a four-under 68 to take the first-round lead, a stroke ahead of Kim Hyo-joo and Melissa Reid.

Ko, who carded a one-under 71, said that Wie had never sulked and had never stopped saying “good shot” when one of the players in her group hit a drive long and straight or an approach close to the hole.

“She was positive,” Ko said, adding, “She’s such a fighter, and I think she’s an amazing role model to many girls and boys, and I think she’s showing that nothing is impossible.”

This was the 281st L.P.G.A. start for Wie, who has five victories on the tour, including in the 2014 United States Women’s Open. She has spent more than half of her life in the spotlight, emerging at age 13 on the grandest stage in women’s golf by playing her way into the last day’s final group of the major now known as the ANA Inspiration. She finished in a tie for ninth.

As a 15-year-old amateur in 2005, Wie nearly won the Women’s P.G.A. Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Maryland. She finished second, three strokes behind Annika Sorenstam. In the ensuing 14 years, Wie’s passion for the game has remained stout, but her back, hip, knees and wrists have broken down at various times.

She followed an unorthodox path in the sport, prioritizing L.P.G.A. events over junior championships and periodically competing on the PGA Tour early in her career, and then entering college well after she had established herself as a professional golfer.

Wie earned a degree in communications from Stanford in 2012, and she became engaged in March to Jonnie West, the Golden State Warriors’ director of basketball operations and the son of Jerry West, the Hall of Fame basketball player.

Wie said that she had recently considered applying for a medical leave and shutting down golf for the rest of the season but that she had been inspired to come back and play this week after watching the Warriors’ six-game loss to Toronto in the N.B.A. finals.

Specifically, Wie said, she was motivated to fight through her injuries when she saw the Warriors’ Klay Thompson make two free throws after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, and also when his teammate Stephen Curry played on after dislocating his finger.

“It was a confirmation to me being like, ‘It’s O.K., it’s O.K. that you’re hurt,’ ” Wie said on Tuesday in her pretournament news conference. “That’s just part of being an athlete, and you just have to go through it and find a way to compete.”

Before this week’s tournament, Wie said she had achieved her two biggest childhood goals by winning the U.S. Open and graduating from Stanford. As a pro, she has earned nearly $7 million in prize money and much more than that in endorsements.

Wie said earlier this week that she was motivated to extend her career because “there’s still so much more I want to accomplish.”

After Thursday’s round, she told reporters that she knew she had to be patient with her injuries and her game. “Thankfully,” Wie said, “I have all afternoon to get warm again and take care of my wrist.”

Before she was led away by her mother, Bo, who hugged her daughter close as she cried, Wie said: “It was kind of a little foolish to think that I would shoot really well, just hitting golf balls last week, at Hazeltine. It’s a tough golf course, but I’m really, really happy that I played. Just feeling a lot of joy just being out there and, you know, competing again.”

Source : NYtimes