Is This the Week For Wie's First Major?

Michelle Wie has shown some steadiness in her play this young season that hasn't been evident in the past. In five starts on the LPGA Tour, she's logged two top-10 finishes and hasn't ended up worse that a tie for 16th.

She's fifth in scoring at 69.85 a round and is second at greens in regulation at 80 percent, an impressive number since she also averages 258.8 yards in driving distance.

It's hard to believe it was 11 years ago that Wie - then a very promising 13-year-old amateur - made her debut in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Wie returns this week to the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club, where she will be vying for the first major title of her checkered career.

Wie, a much-heralded - and over-hyped - amateur, is finally able to focus on golf. At 10 years old, she was the youngest player to qualify for a USGA championship, and at 13 became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Public Links Amateur.

Right after reaching 16 she turned pro, a decision that generated much publicity and rich endorsement contracts, but ultimately had mixed results. Her dalliances in women's - and men's - tour events were viewed by many observers as too much too soon.

In 2006, she showed her talent by becoming the first female medalist in a local qualifier for the U.S. Open, but didn't advance. Other ventures in men's tour events -in the U.S., Japan and Europe - proved disastrous, as the teenager was simply outmatched.

Since 2009, Wie has settled down, attending Stanford, graduating in 2012 with a degree in Communications, and logging two victories on the LPGA Tour, her first the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2009 and the Canadian Women's Open the following year.

Wie now lives in Florida, where her sole focus is strictly golf. The results so far this year show that move is paying off. "I'm really happy," she told reporters Tuesday. "I feel like my game's coming along. I feel like I'm really adjusting well in Florida. It was tough a little bit between the transition period, but I feel like I'm out of the transition period now. That's really good.

"I'm having a lot of fun in Jupiter. I feel like I got a really good system down. Really enjoying the game. Really feeling like I'm almost becoming like a little bit of a golf nerd."

Wie's looking forward to seeing how that newfound golf nerdiness is manifested this week at a tournament she first played 11 years ago. "This tournament always puts things in perspective for me since I played here since I was really young. It reminds me when I was really young coming out here, 'Oh, my God, I'm at the Kraft Nabisco.' I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love to do."

She'll be paired in the first round with fellow American Angela Stanford. The duo will start on the first tee at 12:42 Thursday. Here's what else a candid Wie said during her Q&A with the media.

MODERATOR: Thank you for being here. I'm joined now by Michelle Wie. A practice round or two in the books. Feeling good about yourself going into this major championship? All smiles. You had a nice start to your year.

MICHELLE WIE: Having a lot of fun. My goal this year is to be consistent. Just been working hard and having a lot of fun out there, really enjoying myself.

MODERATOR: You played in five events this year. You've been in the top 16 in every one of those events. What does that say about Michelle Wie right now and her game?

MICHELLE WIE: I thought I snuck it in the top 15 last week. My goal this year is to be consistent. I'm just going out there, making every hole count. I'm just going out there and trying to make a birdie or par, see where that gets me. Obviously I want to win. I feel like I'm getting closer and closer. I'm just taking it day to day and working hard.

MODERATOR: It seems to me like over the last couple of years, the smile has gotten bigger and bigger, and the eyes a little brighter every single year. Do you feel like you're in a great place right now?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. I'm really happy. I feel like my game's coming along. I feel like I'm really adjusting well in Florida. It was tough a little bit between the transition period, but I feel like I'm out of the transition period now. That's really good. I'm having a lot of fun in Jupiter. I feel like I got a really good system down. Really enjoying the game. Really feeling like I'm almost becoming like a little bit of a golf nerd.

MODERATOR: What is that?

MICHELLE WIE: Just get excited when you're out on the golf course. You look at the yardage book, see little things. I remember Beth Daniel showed me her yardage book from Kraft Nabisco. I got excited from the grain directions. Just talking a lot about golf. I guess that would be the definition.

MODERATOR: Are you suggesting maybe over the last few years, maybe back three years, your head wasn't in the game as much, and suddenly you're much more dialed in?

MICHELLE WIE: I think I'm just really appreciating the game. Obviously went through a lot of hard times and good times. Just knowing how much I've been through, I think I'm just really appreciating the fact I can go out here and play the game I love for a living. I just realize how lucky I am, how lucky I am to be here. This tournament always puts things in perspective for me since I played here since I was really young. It reminds me when I was really young coming out here, Oh, my God, I'm at the Kraft Nabisco. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love to do.

MODERATOR: We'll take some questions.

Q. You say you're close to winning. You've been very consistent. What's the difference between finishing eighth or ninth for you right now and getting a victory?

MICHELLE WIE: I think it's just a couple of low rounds. I'll go out there, I'll have a low round, I won't follow it up the next day. I think I need to keep making birdies. It sounds stupid to say, but make more birdies and less bogeys. That's basically what it comes down to, I guess (laughter).

Q. You played this golf course since you were 13. You made some very low rounds here, came close to winning here. How comfortable are you when you walk onto this property? Is it different than when you were 13?

MICHELLE WIE: I talked to my caddie about this. It's weird because every year feels different here. I don't know why. It still doesn't feel like I know the golf course inside and out. It feel like it's changed a couple times, a couple tee boxes, the rough length. The conditions play a big part here. One day it could be no wind and hot, another day can be windy and cold. I think the conditions play a major factor here. But I am very comfortable on this golf course. I really enjoy it. I have a lot of fun here.

Q. Twice in your opening statement you talked about how you are playing the game that you love for a living. There was a period of time not long ago where you didn't look like you liked golf. In hindsight, is that fair? Have you recaptured some of the joy you had as an early teenager?

MICHELLE WIE: I think you all know when you aren't playing well, when you're struggling with the game, when it's difficult, it's not as fun. I get frustrated a lot. Even during those times I still loved it. It was very frustrating for me. I really wanted to do well. I was working hard at it. Just wasn't getting any better. It was frustrating, very frustrating for me. But even then I still felt really lucky just being able to do what I love to do. I still loved it. Love/hate relationship with it. Love it one moment, hate it the other. But I am lucky.

MODERATOR: Let's say you were 12 years old. I think I might know the answer to this, but if you were in complete control of your career from that point forward, would you change anything that you did to try to get to the place you are right now?

MICHELLE WIE: No. I'm a really big believer that the mistakes you make, the failures that you go through, really makes you the person that you are now. I think no one makes all the right decisions. I still would have done everything. I have a lot of really great memories from all those decisions that I made. All the ups and downs come with golf. It really does. It's a really hard game. It looks easy from watching TV. But one day you feel comfortable, the next day you don't. It's a hard game. I think all the mistakes I made, all I've been through, it made me who I am today, and I'm grateful for that.

Q. You're second on the tour in greens in regulation and fifth in scoring. Is there something that you and David have honed in on that's clicking for you?

MICHELLE WIE: Nothing majorly different. Like I said, last year, just working on a lot of things. I just have to be patient. Sometimes improvements show up overnight and sometimes they take a couple years. I think I'm on the couple of years track. Feel like I'm getting better, a little better, every day. That's exactly what I want to do. I don't feel myself improving overnight. I chip away at it every day a little bit, a little bit. Hopefully I get to a place where I can start winning tournaments again.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory from this tournament?

MICHELLE WIE: I have a lot. The most memorable, memorable memory that I have I don't know if it's a good memory or not but I remember when Karrie holed out on me on 18. That's the most memorable one (laughter). But I think it's just a walk down 18 when I was 13. Was it when I was 13? I think just walking down there, teeing off in the last group, people clapping, standing up, it was amazing. I think there's so much history here.

Q. I think it was Honda Thailand where you were just ripping the driver confidently everywhere. I asked David about that. He said your confidence in your driver has really gone up. He said that filters down through the rest of your game. Is that a true statement?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I like Thailand. I like that golf course. That would be the golf course I hit the driver the most. It was fun. I was feeling quite sore after that week. I haven't hit that many drivers in a long time. Yeah, I definitely think when my driver works well it goes down to all my game. Driver is all tempo. When I hit my driver well, it really means I am moving my body parts well.

Q. What do you most admire about Karrie? I think there was a time where people probably thought she was on the downside of her career. She certainly has proved people wrong about that.

MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah, she definitely proved people wrong about that. I definitely respect her a lot, a lot. I got to know her personally over the last couple years. I respect her as a person as well, too. She's so cool and so nice. Her game, I mean, she's ferocious. I think a couple times, we came pretty close at Evian a couple years ago down the stretch. She played so phenomenally. I think obviously winning twice this year, especially Singapore, coming back on Sunday at Phoenix. She's an incredible golfer. Definitely a Hall of Famer. You can tell when you play with her. She's cool, awesome.

Q. That ferocity that you talk about, can that be somewhat intimidating inside the ropes staring at that?

MICHELLE WIE: For sure. She's tiny, but she's scary (laughter).

Q. Your thoughts on Lydia Ko, her transition from amateur to professional this week, what sort of a threat she might be as well?

MICHELLE WIE: She's an incredible golfer. I played with her a couple times last year and this year. She's just so consistent. She hits fairways. She hits it on the greens. She makes the putt. I look at her, Oh, that looks easy. But she's a really good golfer. She has a really, you know, stable mindset when she's out there. Nothing really fazes her. Whether she makes a birdie or bogey, it's all the same to her. She's fun to watch, for sure.

MODERATOR: A couple, three years ago you joined and took part as one of the players on a player communications committee. I tell this story quite a bit. You could have said, I don't have time for something like that. Players give feedback on the tour. How are you really able to kind of take on so many other activities? You could have easily said, No, my game is not in the right spot. You said yes. My question is, Why yes and why so involved in the tour? How have you been able to balance that?

MICHELLE WIE: It didn't really take that much time. We got a couple free dinners out of it. Free food, I'm in always (laughter). But, no, I think just talking to a lot of older players, just seeing what they did to help the tour. I guess I'm feeling a little bit older now. I'm seeing a lot of younger kids come on tour. It's made me really realize that I want to leave the tour in a better place than when I came in. I talk to Christina Kim a lot. That's really what she emphasizes. We both are on the player communication committee. We have a lot of great, fun ideas. I just see the tour going in a better place.

We're really big on social media. We're on a lot of different media outlets. We have a way bigger presence on Golf Channel. I think we have a lot to present. There's a lot of personalities on this tour. There's a lot of hidden treasures out here as well. There's so many people that are so funny that need to be in the media more. That's what I enjoyed about the communication committee. It wasn't about, How can I be in the media more? It wasn't about Stacy being in the media more. It was about, Let's feature this player more because she has such a great personality. It was fun to throw back ideas here and there.

Q. I was noticing, you also paint. Designed an oversized golf ball.

MICHELLE WIE: That was a little bit daunting. They gave me this huge golf ball. I didn't know what to do with it. It's hard enough to paint on a flat canvas. I thought I did a pretty cool job. I looked at it, Oh, I like how it turned out. Then I saw Luke Donald's. I was like, Why? His is so much better (laughter).

Q. You've had quite an academic career. You have an interesting set of interests off the course. What do you think about someday, if you were going to pursue something else, if you weren't involved in golf right now, where do you think that would take you?

MICHELLE WIE: You know, I definitely would miss school. I definitely see myself going back to grad school, business school. I definitely see myself pursuing more of an academic career, getting my master's in something. Future endeavors would be something about food, in that area. I'm a big foodie. It's a big passion of mine. I can see myself going into that.

MODERATOR: Owning restaurants, a fancy chef, a TV show about cooking?

MICHELLE WIE: We'll see. Won't miss any opportunities.

MODERATOR: This year is a great success for Michelle Wie if what happens?

MICHELLE WIE: It would be a big success for me if I just go out there and keep improving every week. I think I started off obviously in a great place, but I want to get better and better. I want to end the year better than how I started. If I could improve a little bit, a little bit, each tournament I'd be very happy. I want to have fun, go out there, enjoy myself, just have fun, I guess.

MODERATOR: First career major could be this week. Play well. Thanks for coming in.


The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.