The Korea Herald


A blessing in disguise

Michelle Wie back in form after layoff

By Korea Herald

Published : Oct. 15, 2014 - 19:53

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INCHEON (Yonhap) ― Michelle Wie, the American LPGA Tour star of South Korean descent, has had an up-and-down season in 2014. Up: Wie has had two victories, including her first career major at the U.S. Women’s Open. Down: Wie has missed most of the past three months with a finger injury.

As she gears up for a return to action in the land of her parents’ birth this week, Wie, who claims to be pain-free now, said her extended layoff may have been a blessing in disguise.

“It was frustrating not to be able to play for three months because I had momentum on my side,” Wie said, mixing in English words while speaking in Korean in a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship. The $2 million tournament, the only LPGA Tour event in South Korea each year, will open Thursday at Sky72 Golf and Resort in Incheon, west of Seoul.

“On the other hand, I was pleased that it wasn’t a season-ending injury,” added Wie, who was born in Hawaii to South Korean parents. “Also, my knee was hurting (at the time of the finger injury) but it actually got better during my time off.”

Wie, currently the world No. 8, was sidelined a little more than a month after the U.S. Women’s Open victory. It capped off a hot stretch during which she’d posted six top-10 finishes in seven starts.
Korean-American golfer Michelle Wie celebrated her 25th birthday last Saturday. (MCT) Korean-American golfer Michelle Wie celebrated her 25th birthday last Saturday. (MCT)

It all came to a screeching halt. Wie last played a full tournament in mid-July at the Marathon Classic in Ohio, where she missed the cut.

Early August, she withdrew from the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan, saying she couldn’t grip her clubs. Soon afterward, she was ruled out for up to five weeks with a stress reaction in her right index finger.

Wie forced herself to play at the Evian Championship, the fifth major of the year, in early September, but withdrew after just 13 holes.

“Looking back, I don’t even know how I played at the Evian Championship,” Wie recalled. “My hand was hurting even when I was putting.”

She had already missed the fourth major of the season, the Wegmans LPGA Championship in mid-August, and said Tuesday she didn’t want to miss two majors in one year.

Yet after the struggle at the Evian Championship ― she shot 5 over through 13 holes ― Wie took an MRI and decided to rest. She said she wanted to join the LPGA Tour’s Asian swing for its earlier stops in China and Malaysia, but ended up waiting two extra weeks before coming back.

“I’ve had plenty of time to rehab and train,” Wie added. “I’ve worked on my grip strength, plus my legs and arms. I’ve got my distance back.”

Wie celebrated her 25th birthday last Saturday. A well-known fan of Korean culture and food, Wie said she’d arrived here a day earlier than usual to celebrate her big day with her relatives in downtown Seoul.

Wie said she enjoyed her time off and is now itching to get back to playing.

“I’ve missed a lot of time this year and I’d like to finish the season on a strong note,” Wie said.

“I panicked when I suffered the injury, and I didn’t expect it to be that severe. But I am happy that I still have five tournaments left on my schedule this year.”