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GOLF CHANNEL MEDIA CONFERENCE


March 11, 2020


Mark Rolfing

Notah Begay

Michelle Wie


Orlando, Florida

Q. Michelle, just talk about the week so far and you working with these guys on Live From and just the experience so far this week?
MICHELLE WIE: It's been so amazing. I could not have thought of a better crew to start this round, working together at the Solheim. Mark I've known for over 20 years and Notah the Stanford connection, I've seen him around. They've been so helpful, just helping me with everything, guiding me through. Overall I haven't been nervous at all because they've just prepared me so well.

Q. Mark, you are Michelle's mentor, the fact that you've known her since she was a kid. Talk about kind of grooming her for TV and kind of the process and how she's doing.
MARK ROLFING: I didn't have to groom her at all. All I had to do was tell her what time to be to work. I must say, I've seen her do a lot of things in her career, starting from when she was nine years old, I guess, out in Hawaii, and I saw her stop the driving range at the Sony Open because she was hitting drivers into the maintenance shed, and that was pretty impressive. But I don't think anything she's done in her entire career since I've known her has been more impressive than what she's done the last few days here. It's been remarkable. She made a couple of comments today that were just phenomenal comments, as an analyst, as a golf analyst, not just as an LPGA player or a phenom golfer, but just the perception of how to say that Steve Stricker plays a certain kind of a game that I wouldn't have even thought of that might be a better wedge sort of setup than a Rory McIlroy type of swing. It was brilliant.

She's just reacted really well to every situation up there.

Q. You said that this was more impressive than anything you've -- you do know she's won a U.S. Open, right?
MARK ROLFING: I do know that. I called that, and I thought that was impressive. I still can't figure out what she was doing on the 16th hole at Pinehurst because I was calling that hole when she nearly lost her ball. But even yesterday Jay Monahan gave a State of the Tour speech and press conference, and when they came to us for comments, one thing he hadn't talked about was women's golf. He had talked about coronavirus, he had talked about gambling, he had talked about Premier League; and what Michelle said was something completely different. She said, I really like what he's done for women's golf, and she kind of laid out a couple things that he had done, and for her to be able in a live TV moment to do that, I've had a lot of analysts on that set with me over the years, and it's not that easy. So she's really adapted extremely well.

Q. Michelle, is this going to be the precursor to a Johnny Miller-type role in television?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't know. Right now it's an exploratory phase. Obviously I have a lot of time off on my hands. Ideally I would love to be playing right now. I am playing for fun, but more kudos to all the women that have played professionally while they were pregnant, because after I play 18 holes in a cart, I need a full hour nap, and I honestly do not know how these women play when pregnant. Even normal women that like through the first trimester and everything, it's a hard physical thing to do.

You know, I have a lot of time on my hands, and thankfully -- I really enjoyed working with Golf Channel at Solheim, so called them up to see if they had an open spot. I'm enjoying myself. Surprised how much I'm enjoying myself. When I did Solheim, I was like, I'm going to hate this, and now it's how can you not enjoy this. It's really intellectually stimulating and I'm a communication major so it's really fun to use that major to use. I've always been the kind of person that wants to do everything and anything, so I'm kind of excited for what the future holds. I don't know what it's going to hold, but definitely I'm enjoying myself and I could see myself doing it more.

Q. When is the last time you physically played 18 holes of golf?
MICHELLE WIE: Last week. I'm striping it. (Laughter.)

Q. The hand feels good?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I mean, it's still a work in progress. I'm working with a hand therapist out in San Francisco right now and we're figuring some things out. It's also hard, too, because with pregnancy causes a lot of difficult changes in your body, especially with joints. So there's new things that have arisen, but it's unexplainable so I'm hoping it's just a pregnancy thing. But it feels great. I got new clubs, got tested for the Mavrik clubs, got fitted, and I actually went shorter in my clubs and lighter, and I think the changes have been great for me.

Q. Notah, you two have known each other for a long time, and as a fellow analyst, how is she doing in the analyst chair, because this is her first time here this week. How is she doing?
NOTAH BEGAY: Well, we've seen a lot of analysts come in for the first time and fail. I mean, it's a lot harder than it looks, and for her to be able to come in and be settled and calm and composed and then project the types of thoughts that she's projecting into the forum is remarkable, especially from the perspective that she sees the game, from her personal experiences. It was impressive. I had a great time, and I just felt like we had -- she'd been there for the last five years sitting down on the end. It creates a great opportunity for us to really dive deep into a lot of these different layers of the game that we end up discussing on some of these longer shows, and it's great to have a fresh perspective on the desk.

Q. As much as you have enjoyed your brief time with her in television, does the bigger part of you really want to see her back on the golf course when she's ready and on her timetable?
NOTAH BEGAY: Absolutely. As an athlete I know what it's like to have to sort of walk away from the game. I always want athletes, if they want to play, to keep playing. That's what we have conditioned ourselves to do since we were very, very little. And I think she still has some tournament wins in her and if that's the route she chooses to take, then I think it's going to be wonderful. But she also knows that she can definitely make the transition to television pretty easily.

Q. Is part of the reason for wanting to play again is to show women that their athletic career does not have to end after having a baby?
MICHELLE WIE: That's a part of it. I think the bigger part of it, even when I had a different perspective if I was having a boy, but having a girl it changed everything for me. Early on I thought I was having a boy, and when I found out I was having a girl, my view on the world completely changed. Whether it's maternity leave, whether it's showing, like you said, that women can work and can come back is really important to me because I think it's hopefully something that she's going to go through in the future, and I just want to set an example for her. I want to be a strong woman and somebody that she looks up to. So that's definitely been a driving force of my wanting to come back. If it was any other way, I think I would have -- retirement was definitely a big thought of mine, especially because of how I was feeling physically. Every shot was excruciating. I was scared. I was scared of the golf ball. But taking a lot of time away over the past couple of -- almost a year now -- playing golf is fun. I really do enjoy playing golf. It makes me want to play, but I don't know if physically I could walk and play. But I feel great. It feels amazing. I have a lot of work to do left on my wrist, but hopefully this extra time...

Q. The LPGA does a wonderful job of supporting moms on Tour.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, that wasn't always the case. I think with maternity leave, players like actually had to go back to Q School because of the policies. But based on the recent work that a lot of new moms have done, the Tour and regulations have changed, and I'm one of the first people to really benefit from that, and the maternity leave is amazing. The amount of freedom that they give us and the time that they give us is really important. I hope that corporations and other businesses look to us and learn from our maternity leave and learn that it is a changing world.

So it's been great. The USGA is changing policies. All my sponsors have been so, so supportive, but it hasn't always been that way. It's because of women that have stood up and made a stand, and I'm really lucky, and hopefully I can make a stand on my own and make it better for the future.

Q. When was the pain the most intense? I've looked over your career trajectory, and you've had six, seven or eight withdrawals at different times, and then there was a little bit of a layoff. Was it last year? When was the worst?
MICHELLE WIE: Each one was really bad. It all stemmed from my car accident. So in 2017 when I pulled out for my neck, my mom had to hold my head to put me to bed because I couldn't physically get down there.

And then with my wrist -- every time I pulled out, it tears me apart because I hate withdrawing, and I hate doing it, but it's just the only option that I see because I can't physically do it.

Just the last tournament was really the last straw for me. I didn't feel like I could play competitively. It just was too draining on me. It was not frustrating because of how I was playing, but because it was painful.

Q. How remarkable is it that you would actually win an event after that? I watched the end of that event in Thailand --
MICHELLE WIE: Singapore.

Q. But to win that event after all you had been through.
MICHELLE WIE: It was amazing. I was ticked up that week, too, but I'm used to it. As an athlete you're used to pain. It comes with the gig. It's just whether -- even people that seem healthy out there, I'm sure they're going through something, but it's just a part of it.

Q. So much has changed for you in the last year, engagement, wedding, now -- when you found out you were pregnant, how much did it change your thoughts just about your future, whether you would feel like playing again or whether motherhood would take a priority? So many woman have gone both routes, really.
MICHELLE WIE: It's changed everything. I remember me finding out and we both just like dropped down to the floor and started laughing for like 30 minutes and couldn't move. Like I said, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I'm excited.

Q. When you think about all the other moms or expectant moms out there, who did you call? Stacy Lewis has gone through it, Brittany has gone through it. Do you talk to all these others that have gone through what you're going through right now?
MICHELLE WIE: A couple of them have reached out to me. All my friends on Tour don't have babies, so it's kind of fun telling them all the horror stories -- no, I'm just kidding. It's great. But I talked to Brittany a little bit, Stacy, and talking to Juli and Pat, there's so many great moms out there and so many moms that have so much experience that I have so much to learn from. But just my friends who have kids, it's so amazing what they have done, and it's a beautiful thing.

Q. So you don't have any particular timeline --
MICHELLE WIE: I don't.

Q. You'll play whenever you feel like the time is right?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. But you will play again?
MICHELLE WIE: I do want to, yes.

Q. Coming into this week, what have these guys shared with you, any tips so that when you sit back and watch and learn about this potential next step down the road?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, Notah showed me the ShotLink site, which is incredible. We need that on the LPGA. I mean, so many stats, and how they can really analyze it. They take all this information that just comes at you, but really picking the right ones and using the right stats to reinforce your arguments. I think Notah does a really great job of that. And Mark has great insight on the game, and I think him and I approach things really similarly when it comes to analysis. They told me before I walked the golf course, I want you to look at this and look at that. And I'm like, okay, 7th hole, water, great, cool, and move on. But he was like, okay, look at this specifically, what would you think. And it helps you to think in a certain way because as a player it's kind of a different thing than an analyst.

Q. Switching a little bit, when you look at what Serena Williams has done as a mother, do you look at that in amazement, given that she's been able to sustain such a high level of play?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, and I also look at Catriona Matthews. She won the British Open nine weeks after giving birth. She won a major championship nine weeks after. If I could walk normally after nine weeks, I would be very happy. Players like that, I mean, players like Juli, it's not just -- it's all of us out there. You don't understand. I think tennis is brutal, how they run like that -- I complain about walking, they're running. But it's amazing what they've done.

Q. What's the most surprising part that you've seen of being behind the camera or in front of the camera for TV versus playing?
MICHELLE WIE: There's a lot of sitting around. There's a lot more breaks than I thought, which is great, all the long press conferences, gives you time to go to the bathroom, which is great. But it's fun. It's a fun crew. I love it. It's a lot of fun.

MARK ROLFING: I had warned her that the first few days are different, because all this is speculation, and starting tomorrow now all of a sudden there's going to be shots and results and analysis. And all of a sudden instead of saying, well, Brooks Koepka may do this or Brooks Koepka may do that, now we have to be analyzing Brooks Koepka did that and here's why or here's what I think about that. Things are going to change, and I've tried to get her a little bit ready for that. Yeah, there's been some waiting now, but there's not going to be so much starting tomorrow.

Q. Have you guys made your picks --
MARK ROLFING: I'm sitting between two Stanford grads. Do you think I want to get into some kind of a conversation like that? I don't think we have any, but I bet we will in the morning. Notah is notorious for --

NOTAH BEGAY: Changing my picks. It's a running joke. And then I get roasted if I pick Tiger.

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