by Coachella Valley | March 31, 2015 3:16 pm
Coachella Valley Welcome to the media center here at the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage. Good to have Michelle Wie here. I know this place brings back good memories for you. I was looking at the numbers, and 11th appearance for you at this golf course. What’s that say in and of itself?
MICHELLE WIE: It’s a lot of fun. Played the back nine with Webby today, and we were actually talking about that. She was like, Yeah, it’s my 20th one. So I started laughing. There are so many great memories here. I really want to thank ANA for keeping it going. The traditions are so great. I know there was an opportunity where this tournament might not have happened, but I’m really glad for the new sponsor. It’s really great, new colors and everything, so I’m just really grateful to be back here.
Q. Let me follow that up, actually. Let’s talk about that from a big- name player perspective. You want to elevate yourself in major championships. Now that you’ve won one, these are very important to you. You understand the importance of bigger stages for women’s golf because you like to be a part of that. So as you saw perhaps some uncertainty for an event like this, as a player on this Tour, what did you really think, and how is this news for you?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, it was really great news. Obviously we had heard it was going to be the last year. There is always uncertainty. You never know what might happen. There might be a one-year lull in it. There might be just a sponsor that might not work so well with our Tour, but it felt like everything aligned great. Just what they have done for us so far, they’re really pushing us forward. It’s a great name for the tournament too. I think it’s awesome the fact that we can come back here. It’s so special. The fans really look forward to seeing us every year, and just to be back, it feels great.
Q. So let’s talk about last year and we’ll take some questions. If you all raise your hands, we’ve got microphones. Was last year a positive here for you or was it a disappointment?
MICHELLE WIE: It was both. I was heartbroken afterwards. But at the same time, I played as hard as I could. Lexi played so great last year. You know, it was both, for sure. I definitely was very happy with how I played, but at the end of the day it was a little bit heartbreaking for me. But I think that’s what motivated me and got me fired up for the following week.
Q. That’s what I was going to say. Do you win the U.S. Women’s Open if you don’t walk away from this event last year with the experience you had? How much did it help you do you think?
MICHELLE WIE: I’m a strong believer and always been a strong believer of everything happens for a reason. I learned a lot. I think I learned a lot from last year just how I approached it. Just from winning and losing, I think you learn both equally as much. Definitely I was fired up after this event last year.
Q. You mentioned it’s always good to come back, and having come in 11 starts in 12 years, are they always positive thoughts from here from the time you were 13 and on? What are your thoughts when you do come back? What are the things you think about?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I love the Palm Springs area. I think about the fans. I think the fans are so enthusiastic. Seeing the same faces every year. It feels like they wait for us to come back, so I feel a grand welcome every time I come back here. But the course, I’ve just had so many great memories at Poppie’s Pond and you see all the names of the winners and past champions, so it definitely has a very good feeling of this tournament and this golf course is a lot of fun. Every year it always plays a little differently. Some years are faster than other years. Some years the rougher is longer, the grass is a little different. So it doesn’t play the same every year, which is also kind of fun. You never know what you’re going to get with the conditions, whether it’s hot, cold, windy, not windy. So it’s been fun.
Q. I think a lot of people thought that when you won the U.S. Open it would just unleash the dam and you’d just go on to be in the mix every week. If everything happens for a reason, how do you explain the injuries that sort of set you back after that win, and what kind of perspective do you place that win in given everything that followed?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I mean, injuries suck. I don’t know if they happen for a reason or not, but there is really nothing I could do about that. I felt like I was really struggling with my knee last year and I took some time off with my hand because definitely everything else felt a lot better after that. But it was just really unfortunate because at the same time I felt like I finished the year really strong. Golf is a fun game. It’s always a work in progress for me. And definitely having a lot of fun with it still. I would like to be in the mix every week. I think that’s what is fun about this game is you have an opportunity every week to go out there. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to play this week, the opportunity every week to be in the mix.
Q. I know you’ve been disappointed with your health this year as well with some various illnesses. But is there a part of your game that the numbers don’t show that you’re pleased with and you can tell us you feel is moving in the right direction?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think that every week it’s definitely getting better. I think just from how I played in Phoenix and how I played at Kia, just getting back to feeling comfortable. That’s really what I’ve been working on. I just felt like I played a lot better than what my score showed, especially last week. But it’s just every week feeling more comfortable and trying to work on things for the long-term, not just for that week. So I have a very long-term kind of mindset going and just kind of working towards it. Just going out there every week and trying to see what I can do.
Q. Was there a part of you that was slightly freaked out that you might not get the opportunity to jump into Poppie’s Pond if ANA doesn’t come in and save the day? Was that going through your mind?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was definitely like I said before, there was uncertainty for a moment. I was thinking, oh, it would be really sad if we didn’t come back. It all worked out, so we’re back here and it’s really great.
Q. Are there one or two older players on Tour you can point to that have been particularly helpful as mentors over the years?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel have been very helpful. They’ve definitely been someone that I call all the time and ask questions and get their opinions on anything. They’ve been very helpful ever since I’ve been out here. I actually played with Christina Kim here for my first time when I was 13, so she’s always someone that has my back, and I can go for help about anything.
Q. On the Rolex Annika Major Award for you, you had a major championship. You finished runner up here. I know you would have loved to have played at the Evian all the way through last year. Because of the injury, you weren’t able to accomplish that, but you did walk away with that award. I remember that evening with the big smile on your face and talking about what that meant to you for your career. Can you share that with everybody and find out what you thought about that particular honor in the off-season and what that does for you this year?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was a really great honor. Just such a prestigious award with Annika’s name on it. If you think about the past and what she’s done in the majors and how consistently well she’s played and how many majors she’s actually won, it’s amazing that I can win such an award. It was really great, and definitely it’s in the back of my mind for this year, especially this being the first major of the year. So, yeah, it’s definitely something you think about for sure.
Q. You hear on the men’s Tour players always saying I want to peak for the majors. It’s all about the majors for me at this point in my career. Obviously you want to win major championships. I understand that. Where are you with your career as far as the importance of any victory, major championship victories, awards, honors, et cetera?
MICHELLE WIE: I’ll take anything (laughing). I’m not picky at all. For me I think the most important thing is I want to give myself the best chance every week, whether it’s a major or not. There is that added extra pressure that you want to win the majors, especially in tournaments like these which have so much history. I think for me the most important is saying whether or not I’m peaking or not this week, I just want to give myself the best chance. I feel like everyone has a fair opportunity this week, and I want to give myself the best chance that I can give and just have fun out there.
Q. Last year was an interesting tactical dual with Lexi. She was pretty much playing bomb and gouge, drivers everywhere. You were kind of playing into positions. How does a golf course differ this year, and how does it set up for tactical reasons that way?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I played 18 holes this morning. For the most part pretty similar. But it’s obviously a lot softer than it was last year, so definitely bringing up the ball flight a little bit because it’s not flying as far. But I don’t think I’ll take out too many more drivers. I tested it out today. Kind of mixed it up a little bit. But I felt like my plan was pretty good last year, so just trying to stick with the same plan. Obviously, the golf course is playing a little different so far. It might firm up a little bit with the hot weather and what not. So I think we’ll take it day by day and see what the strategy will be.
Q. After your success here last year, you were able to kind of jump start your season. With a little bit of discipline that you’ve had to start the season, what can you take from the familiarity you’ve had with this course and hopefully jump start the rest of the season this year?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, not really thinking about the remaining of the season. Every week is just about that week. I feel like I’ve said this a lot in past press conferences, but I’m really just focusing on the present. Not even the result of the tournament, but what I have to do to get there, and I felt like I had a really good practice round with David today and just working on a couple of things. Trying to set myself up to give myself a really good chance this week, just trying to get things comfortable, feeling good. So I can just go out there and play and have fun like I try to do. So just really focusing on how to get there and just thinking about this week really.
Q. Growing up in Hawaii you got an early start on how to deal with different time zones and adjust. How do you get your body clock in the best acclimated to perform well?
MICHELLE WIE: It definitely is getting harder every year. I feel like before when I was younger, I know it’s funny every time I say that.
Q. Because you’re so old?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I know. It’s funny when I say that. It’s definitely getting harder. But I eat at certain times. I try to keep with that, not just listen to my body. So I try to sleep at certain times, eat the at the right times and you kind of get used to it. The problem is when you go to a different time zone and sleep during the day and what not, it really messes you up the rest of the week. So try to stick on a schedule, but that’s definitely easier said than done.
Q. When you look at what Lydia Ko has done at the age of 16, now 17. Just wonder if your mind goes back to the 13, 14, 15-year-old Michelle Wie and the expectations the golfing world had upon her at that point?
MICHELLE WIE: It’s amazing what Lydia has done. She’s an amazing person and an amazing golfer. Seeing what she’s done, she’s definitely well beyond her years. I was just playing with her a couple of rounds this year. She’s so impressive the way she plays and handles herself under pressure. She’s even keeled and very mature. I’m very impressed by her.
Q. Lydia has 28 consecutive rounds under par. For people who don’t really understand how good that is, can you just kind of put that into perspective how good that is?
MICHELLE WIE: That’s pretty damn good. It’s pretty impressive. Like I said before, she’s just so consistent. A lot of people ask me what the strong point is about her game. I think the strong point is that she really doesn’t have a weakness, a standing weakness in her game. She kind of goes out there and she hits it pretty far, hits it pretty close to the hole, usually makes a putt. It’s very consistent. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she keeps that streak going. It’s definitely something I’ve been working on. Consistency is something I really want to achieve, and I definitely look up to her in that sense.
Q. You don’t look up to many people. You’re taller than most, especially Lydia. Interesting article. This will be our last question about our Tour. It specifically talked about a family atmosphere. Now Lydia, Inbee and Stacy have been at the top of the heap. You’re Top 10 in the world. Obviously want to continue to move Northward on that. Can you talk about the family atmosphere and how that exists in your mind, if, in fact, it is a big part of the Tour right now with perhaps the best of the best helping out each other and camaraderie, et cetera?
MICHELLE WIE: It’s great. It definitely gets lonely out on Tour. Traveling is very hard, but there are definitely a lot of shoulders to lean on. I think that just definitely having my friends. Laura Diaz and I have had this conversation. It gets lonely out here, so definitely we have each other to lean on. I feel very fortunate that we do. I think there could be potential where we’re competing each other day-in and day-out, and we want to not be friendly toward each other, but it’s not the case. Stacy and I work out in the gym together. We’re very friendly. People that you don’t think would be friends, we’re very close to each other, definitely with Lydia too. I think that her being so young out on Tour, I think that me and a couple of people have definitely tried really hard to make her feel welcome. I knew exactly how that felt coming out here. It’s a great family atmosphere out here. The main goal we have in mind to elevate our Tour and get more followings, get more audiences, just have interesting golf. There is so much competition on the golf course and the thing off the golf course we just want to help support each other.
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