Michelle Wie West returns to competition at Kia Classic


Makenna West is crawling now. She loves to pick the ball out of the hole for mom on the practice green. Michelle Wie West hopes that her daughter’s early love of golf balls is a positive sign.

Makenna, after all, is the reason Wie West is back competing on the LPGA at this week’s Kia Classic. Wie West, 31, thought she was done after the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA, the last time she competed on the LPGA. Her body had failed her. Then, when the five-time winner found out she was pregnant later that year, well, that all but cemented it in her mind.

“I thought there was no chance of coming back,” said Wie West, “and I told my husband that. He was like, ‘No, no, just think it through.’ ”

And then Wie West found out that she was having a girl, and that changed everything.

She wanted to show Makenna in real-time that she could compete as a mom. That her game wasn’t limited to old YouTube videos. She wanted to lead by example.

“Goal-wise, obviously I want to win,” said Wie. “I’m not out here just to make the cut or just to do whatever.”

Wie told her caddie that she wanted full commitment on every shot this week, something she struggled with in the past when injuries were top of mind. Fun is a priority too, of course.

“As a competitor, I want to kind of show everyone what I got,” said Wie. “So I’m just going to go out there and take it shot-by-shot and enjoy myself, try to make my daughter proud.”

Wie tees off on Thursday at 3:33 p.m. ET alongside fellow Stanford alum Albane Valenzuela and In Gee Chun. While first two rounds of the Kia Classic are tape-delayed on Golf Channel from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, fans can watch some of Wie’s first round on NBC Sports live stream from 6-9 p.m. ET.

With the ANA Inspiration as a main goal to strive toward, Wie said she started to practice more in earnest at the start of the New Year. The fact that she can drive to events on the West Coast was a big factor in her feeling good about coming back to compete with her parents, daughter and two dogs in two.

“It’s a big family circus,” she said.

On Tuesday, she met the women who run the tour’s daycare service and said she’s easing her way into that, especially with COVID-19. Even leaving Makenna with her mom hasn’t been easy, simply because she’s not used to being away from her daughter for more than two hours at a time.

“All working moms know,” she said, “it’s a tough first week to leave your kid.”

Stacy Lewis, who won as a mom for the first time last summer, said getting out the door on time might be the toughest part about the first week back.

While Wie West still has big goals inside the ropes, she’s careful not to go too hard because her No. 1 priority is being able to hold her baby. She’s therefore putting an even higher premium on her body, her wrists in particular.

She brought three bags of recovery supplies to Carlsbad, calling it a hotel clinic.

After the ANA, Wie West plans to compete in upcoming stops in Hawaii, Los Angeles and San Francisco. While she has yet to play the Olympic Golf Club, site of the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Mediheal Championship is staged at Lake Merced, where Wie is a member. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion said it’s pretty ideal to have an Open staged 15 minutes from your house. Olympic is a bit too hilly though to get a practice round in with a stroller.

“When I go out and play Merced,” said Wie West, “I carry my bag and I push her, and I kind of put the stroller so she can see all my shots. I think she likes it. She hasn’t complained so far.”

Michelle Wie West and Mark Rolfing on the Golf Channel set during a practice round prior to The PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Wie, who is also one of Pat Hurst’s assistant captains for this year’s Solheim Cup, said she’ll still sprinkle in TV jobs when she can. But as she told the networks and her agent, playing remains her top job priority.

“I’m going to do that as long as I can,” she said.





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