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U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP


June 17, 2014


Michelle Wie


PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA

MIKE TROSTEL: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Pinehurst No. 2 for the 69th U.S. Women's Open. I would like to welcome Michelle Wie here to the interview room. Michelle is playing in her 11th U.S. Women's Open. Her best finish is a tie for third in 2006 at Newport Country Club. She is also the winner of the 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links. And Michelle, you're off to a great start in the year 2014, eight top-10 finishes in 12 shorts. Victory at the LPGA Lotte Championship, runner-up finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and now up to 11th in the Rolex World Rankings. Seems like you're coming in with a lot of confidence, can you just assess the state of your game right now?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I'm just having a lot of fun playing. I just want to get better and better every single week. I feel that I came into the year saying that I want to be more consistent and I feel like I'm kind of on track. I'm being more consistent. I'm excited, I'm really just really excited for this week. I came in on Sunday, I watched the guys play. And just kind of walking up on 18, seeing Martin Kaymer win. And I was walking, I was just talking to Korda and I looked to the left briefly and I was like, whoa, this is amazing. And I told Jeff, I was like up to your left, this is unbelievable. And we both got goose bumps in our skin. I'm getting chills right now thinking about it. But it really just got me pumped up for Sunday. I told her I was like, hey, let's play in the afternoon here. This is a really pretty amazing thing. So it was really cool. I think it's -- we're definitely making history this year. So I'm really excited for our TOUR and all of us girls playing this week.

MIKE TROSTEL: You said you got to see the guys play on Sunday. And then played a little bit yourself yesterday. It's a course very much unlike what you've played probably in most of your other tournaments, with no rough. The natural areas, sand and wire grass. Did you play some shots from there yesterday and if so, how did that feel playing from something a little different.

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's definitely different. You're used to four inch rough and you kind of are mentally preparing yourself for that. But the native, it's very interesting. You can get lucky, you can get very unlucky. Sometimes it looks easier than it actually is. Sometimes it looks harder than it actually is. It's going to be very interesting. It looks very cool. The golf course looks awesome.

MIKE TROSTEL: Great. We'll open it right up to questions.

Q. You are one of the few perhaps the only person who can relate to what Lucy Li is going to go through this week. Can you remember when you first came out on a big stage like this as a kid, what were your feelings? And what advice would you give to her?
MICHELLE WIE: I wasn't quite as young as her. But I think I'm just so excited for her. I met her actually on Sunday afternoon. I ran into her and her father. She is just -- she looks so darn cute, like, I was like, I don't think I looked that cute when I was 11. But she just looks so excited, so wide-eyed, I was 10 years old when I played my first Public Links and I remember coming -- it was actually in North Carolina when I was 10 years old. I just, it's just so exciting. A lot of people ask me, is that too young, what do you think? And I'm just really so excited for her to just be out. It's a memory that will last her a lifetime. What other 11 year old can say that they played in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and she got to see the men play as well, too. I heard she was here for two weeks. It's an incredible experience for her and I think the memory is priceless. I hope she learns a lot, I hope she has fun. But what I can remember, my first U.S. Open, I was wide-eyed, I was like, oh my God, I'm playing in the U.S. Open. This is amazing. But, yeah I'm really excited for her.

Q. What advice would you give her?
MICHELLE WIE: I would say just to have fun. Go out there, try to learn as much as you can, go up to any pro, we're not scary, we won't bite. Just ask us anything. I think that's the one thing I wish I did more when I was 13 was to go up to pros and ask them anything. You get a little scared. I'm not scared anymore, so I don't have any fear of asking anyone anything now. But I wish I had done that more when I was younger, just to go up to anyone and really pick their brains. If she comes up to me I'll definitely give her some advice or try to. I don't know what advice I can give her.

Q. Is it correct you obtained the yardage books of two men who played last week, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley, is that right?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. And curious what have you gleaned from them? What kind of messages and information did they leave behind and share with you?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, actually just right before I came out for this press conference I laid all the yardage books down and I kind of compared notes. And I think it's definitely knowledge is key around here. Just knowing where to miss it, where not to miss it. It's such a unique experience, just to kind of have the information, that information, that's never really happened before. You normally go up to a golf course site, the information would probably be from like years ago from when they replayed it or something. But this is pretty fresh information and it's pretty similar conditions to what we'll play it. So hopefully, I think it's going to be very useful and I'm very thankful that they gave it to me for me to use. So I'm really happy about it.

Q. What did you think you've gained from watching the final round yesterday on property in terms of maybe not having exactly the same kind of golf course, firmness-wise.
MICHELLE WIE: I think honestly just watching Martin Kaymer play, I mean it was pretty cool. I mean it made the golf course look so easy. Just hitting these shots, making these putts and it was almost like a boost of confidence, like, oh, you can birdie this hole. That's not that hard. It's possible. But also it's just fun seeing Rickie play. I never have seen him play in tournaments. So it's nice to go out there, just, it was a cool golf nerd experience. I mean just walking inside the ropes in the U.S. Open, watching it happen, it was pretty cool also to see history being made when Martin won. So, yeah, it was awesome.

Q. Do you get a sense at all, I mean if we were at the Broadmoor this would just be kind of the premier week in women's golf like it always is, do you get a sense that you guys are going to be judged this week, just because you follow the men?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think they're definitely going to try and compare us. It will be like oh they played it this way, I want to see how they play it. But I think it really puts us in the spotlight, which I think it's great for our TOUR. And like I said, we're making history this week. I think I've always been excited about it. I think the USGA is very excited about this week. I think it's a great opportunity for us to show everyone how great we are because we can directly compare ourselves with the men. I think it opens a door, hopefully it opens a door for many future events like this. Maybe some events that we can play in the same week or not. I think it definitely opens a door for us for the future.

Q. You said we could ask you anything, and I notice sitting here in the front row that you have different nail polish on your fingers. Is that to help you with your grip or is there a reason for that?
MICHELLE WIE: No. It's just --

Q. Just your whim this morning?
MICHELLE WIE: Uh-huh.

Q. You referenced obviously 11 U.S. Open appearances already, 13 years old. Do you feel, Michelle, that at 24, you've already had a golf career? And it just seems like you've been out here for so long, yet you're so young. I saw you referenced a quote somewhere like you feel like you've been through the ringer and it's been a long career already but you're only 24. Just talk about what that's been like.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, definitely have had a lot of ups, have had a lot of downs. I really feel like I'm kind of starting the second part of my career. It's fun. It's a long journey. I think a golf career, you're going to have ups, you're going to have downs, it's not a short career, it's a very long career. I'm in it for the long run. I'm just really grateful for all the experiences I've had, the ups and the downs, I just learned so much from my mistakes, learned so much from my ups, and I'm just really excited for the future, because I feel like, yeah, I have played in a lot of U.S. Opens, I have played in a lot of events, but I really just feel like - I really feel like this is the beginning. I really feel like there's so much ahead of me and I'm really grateful for everything that's happened and I can't wait for the future.

Q. I have a quick follow-up to this. You said you laid down all the yardage books, can you did you get more than just Rickie and Keegan's?
MICHELLE WIE: I got their caddie's, as well, too.

Q. Okay.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. The follow-up is, Michelle, you have played a Women's Open at Oakmont, you played a British Open at St. Andrews, why is it important for the women to play on these historic venues?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's great. Personally, I think it's really cool to play Pinehurst. I've never been here. We just took a picture in front of the sign. But I also think that just playing on these recognizable stages it makes our TOUR bigger, it brings a lot more attention to our TOUR. We're definitely on the upswing, but obviously, I think I was telling my agent that it really, seeing the big grandstands of the men, seeing that there are 400,000 people watching men last week and then kind of directly comparing that to us, it really puts attention to how much more we can get better. It really puts attention to kind of our goal. If we want to get up there, we want 400,000 people watching us. We want this many more sponsor tents, we want this many more that. I think it really puts it in perspective of where we want to get to. So I think it definitely pushes us a lot harder when we see that, face-to-face. I think it motivates all of us.

Q. It's a pretty unusual setup for a women's golf in terms of the severity of the greens, the way the fairways neck down in some of the landing areas. Can you discuss how you go about assessing a property like this, in terms of your own game, shots you might have to adjust or thinking to compete?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, U.S. Open golf courses, this is definitely a very challenging golf course. It's not easy. You have to go out there and really figure out what the best place to miss it, what's the best place to go, where not to miss it. It's just a very challenging golf course and you have to hit the right shots and you have to be very prepared for it.

Q. You played at Legacy in Willapa, as you said, when you were very young, any memories of Pinehurst that visit? Also, yesterday I was watching you on the practice putting green and you really had almost a 90-degree angle in your kind of table top putting style. And I know you came from 2012, 119th or so, fifth best putter now, I mean, has that changed? Do you credit that for -- or what do you credit for being such a good putter now?
MICHELLE WIE: When I came here in the Legacy it was my first time playing golf on the mainland in the heat of the summer. Growing up in Hawaii, it's perfect every day, it's 85. I remember just being, it's like, wow, it's really hot here. I remember I lost in the first round, the first match and I was 10 years old and I remember crying all day. I would hit, like, wipe away my tears. I would hit a tee shot and I would cry again. I was a 10 year old. (Laughter.) But a lot of great memories. Kind of thrust me back there. Especially seeing Lucy Li playing this week. But my putting stance is kind of what I feel comfortable with and I was just -- I think that I still need to get better, but I think I'm definitely on the right track. It may look funny, but it feels good to me. My dad always says, oh, you can eat dinner on your putting stance.

Q. And was that your Pomeranian I saw up on the hospitality deck there yesterday? Did you bring, is it Lola, your little doggie?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't know, was she out there? Yeah, I guess so. Maybe.

Q. You were sort of the face of the TOUR before maybe it was maybe even fair for you to be in that position. Now, because you're playing so well, you're going to go into this week as one of the favorites. Do you feel in some ways better equipped to handle that kind of pressure, those expectations, having flown a little bit under the radar the last few years?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't really pay attention to that much. I think it really doesn't matter who the favorite is or not to win. Anything can happen at the U.S. Open. It's a very challenging golf course, things can happen. So I'm mentally prepared for anything that's about to happen. I may play great, I may play horribly, but I'm just going to go out there and try my hardest and hopefully I've prepared enough, I've practiced hard enough, where I will play great. But I'm just going to go out there and really just enjoy myself on the golf course and try to play the best I can and I'll see what happens from there.

Q. Looking back to the 2006 U.S. Open in Rhode Island, another Donald Ross course, your best finish. Do you think back to memories like that and where you were and this is a U.S. Open and what kind of stage this could be? Can you kind of take us back what you were feeling at the end of that tournament and then how that's helped you progress and can that help you into this week?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I mean U.S. Opens get me really excited. I get really excited for the U.S. Opens and I try not to put so much pressure on myself but I always end up doing so. So this week I'm just kind of really trying to keep my stress levels down, try and keep my anxiety down, but mostly I'm just excited to play. The Rhode Island, I feel like all U.S. Open venues are awesome. Donald Ross courses are especially tricky, with the turtle back greens and everything. But, yeah, it's just, it's exciting. I just need to calm down and play.

Q. You talked about before kind of going back to Lucy Li and you talked about now the pressure that these players face and the constant anxiety and things like that. Do you thing it's harder for some of these younger players to come up now that there's kind of constant media pressure, social media, things like that?
MICHELLE WIE: I can never speak for anyone else. I think that everyone kind of handles pressure differently. But I think that it's just, for me personally, I never really pay attention much to media, I didn't read anything. I kind of just try to just block myself off as much as possible. Obviously it comes through and whatnot. But I just want them to keep excited, I just want them to be excited about this week. It's a very cool experience to play at Pinehurst. And just to have fun.

Q. Can I ask you two other things from what you said earlier about the spotlight, which is generally good. Is there any concern kind of like Cherry Hills, that the spotlight could be negative. The course was so brutal that day there was a lot of -- you remember that day. Sorry about that, there were a lot of squirrely shots for a lot of people. That it could be a negative spotlight and does that matter or is it just the spotlight?
MICHELLE WIE: The spotlight of playing well?

Q. Of just people maybe more people paying attention this week just because of the nature of following the men?
MICHELLE WIE: I think that once you're out on the golf course you kind of just forget about all of that. I think you just forget about the spotlight and everything. It just really -- this course is so demanding that I think that you're just going to be so caught up in trying to make birdies and trying to make pars and not make bogeys, everything else just kind of disappears. But I think it's great. I think the spotlight's great for our TOUR and I think a lot of you'll see a lot of great results come from it.

Q. Secondly, is the most qualified person to answer this question the field, because you've probably played more against the men? What do you see from your experience back then, the difference between the men's game and the women's game and how do you think that will apply here in terms of what do you see as the most -- greatest difficulty about the golf course?
MICHELLE WIE: I play with a lot of the guys at home as well, too, when I'm in Jupiter and I always try to talk to them about it. I talked to Rickie about this as well, too. I think that -- and I talked to Meg Mallon about this and Stacy and just trying to get my views on everything. I really think that the men are -- I think that's a quality that I want to achieve or get is that they're fearless. They just go up to a putt, they go up to a shot and they see a shot, they go for it. It's not like, oh, that was risk reward or they don't get hung up on it, they're very fearless. And I think that's something that I've always tried to become, instead of being calculative and go like, oh, you know, think of the result and whatnot. Just to go out there and be fearless and take chances. I think that's what the men, this golf course, there's a lot of risk reward and that's what I saw a lot on TV. That's what I saw on Sunday, is that when I saw Dustin Johnson play, the longer players, that they take risks and if they go in the native, they go in the native. If not, great. Then have you wedge into holes. I think that's something that I need to do this week is to be fearless and go out there and just play and take the risks.

Q. What do you see as the greater difficulty, the sandy areas or the nature of the greens?
MICHELLE WIE: They're both not great, but I think the native is the lesser of two evils. I think the sandy areas, I don't know, actually. I think fairways are best.

Q. You said you met Lucy yesterday, what was that like, did you get any sense for her, was she awe struck at all?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, the first thought that came into my mind was, oh, I wish I looked that cute when I was 11. She was just so cute. But, yeah, I'm kind of excited to see her hit balls and see her play. And kind of just it puts me back when I was 11. But, yeah, it's definitely a walk back to memory lane.

Q. There was a lot of concern about how the course would be after the men played. From playing the practice rounds, any affects? What do you see out there?
MICHELLE WIE: There were no divots. There were, greens were in perfect shape. The greens don't look browned out at all. I think the USGA wants the fairway to be browned out. I think that was not a mistake, I think that was a lack of water. I think they want the golf course to look brown and I think it looks very cool brown. I think it would look really weird if it was lush and green. But I was surprised yesterday, there are no divots really anywhere near the green. The practice range looks fantastic. I think the practice facility here is large enough that it can hold two fields. So, yeah, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Q. Being so close to Fort Bragg, the USGA was able to open its doors for some of the troops to come out and watch you guys play. How does it make you feel that America's defenders of freedom have come out to support you guys?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's great. Some of the Marine Corps came out of Mobile and they came out and volunteered and it's just so cool. I think it's a constant reminder of the people that sacrifice everything to allow us what to do, allows us to play golf, allow us to be in press conferences and not have to fight for our freedoms. I mean they just go out there and they're the bravest of us all. So I think it's great for them to come out and watch the U.S. Open. I hope I meet a couple of them and I think it's wonderful.

Q. I think you were about 12 when you played your first LPGA event in North Augusta. Do you remember how tall you were and how far you could hit then?
MICHELLE WIE: I was a bit chubby. I was actually talking to a couple of older players about this. And like I said before I was like Lucy Li, she's so cute and tiny. And I was like, was I that cute? And they're like, no, you were ginormous. I remember I was five seven when I was 10 and I was six feet when I was 13, so I must have been somewhere in between there. I was a bit of a porker. I was not slender at all. So I hit the ball pretty far.

Q. Martin Kaymer set a fairly unrealistic bar number-wise that even the other men couldn't come close to. What would you take at the end of the week if conditions stay similar to what they are all week on this golf course?
MICHELLE WIE: Par's a great number one this golf course. Martin really made the course look easy. The way he played. But it also showed us that if you do keep it in the right areas, you do put yourself in the right positions, it looked like even when he missed the greens he left himself easy chips, he never really left himself an impossible situation. So it's great to see him play the golf course and kind of see how he attacked it. 9-under -- 10-under? 9-under was a pretty incredible score. I kind see the rest of the field they are hovering around even par, 1-under was great. So I think that's definitely what I'm taking away from that.

Q. The tape on your left leg, are you having an issue at all this week?
MICHELLE WIE: Not really, no. It's just a nagging problem that I've had for a little bit. But the tape, it looks a lot worse than it actually is. It just is helping my muscles to fire the right way, trying to get it aligned better. So, yeah, it's definitely helping. But it's not that bad.

Q. Knee or what?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's kind of the knee. But it's not that bad at all, it's just slightly a nagging issue. I just feel like I'm getting old and not 13 anymore and tapeless. I feel like, you know, I have tape now.

Q. Watching Lucy practice yesterday, she hit a couple lovely shots on to the green that you could tell she thought she hit it perfectly and of course the balls rolled right off the green. At 11 -- looking back at your 11-year-old self, did you have the patience, do you think, to sort of weather that kind of, those kinds of greens and might that be almost her greatest challenge this week?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't think I had patience back then. I don't think I had patience now either. So I don't know if that makes a difference. But I think for her, I think the fact that it's her first U.S. Open, I think the fact that she doesn't have any bad experiences, I think that will definitely help her. The fact that she doesn't know what to expect I think will help her. I don't think any of that really matters for her. I think the fact that she's out here, I think, I hope she thinks it's really cool. I remember my first U.S. Open, not that it really mattered but even if I missed the green I was like oh this is still really cool. This is what U.S. Opens are like. And you hear stories about how hard it is. You can never tell how hard it is watching it on TV. I think that's what I've noticed. It's really my first time watching golf on TV, and I watched a lot of it last week. It looked pretty easy on the golf course. It looked wide, the greens don't look as severe. And I got here and it's like, oh, it's a lot harder than it looks on TV. I think she probably watches a lot of golf on TV and when she got to the golf course and it's a lot harder than it looks. I think she learns a lot from it. But, yeah, it's a U.S. Open, it's balls are going to roll off, you're going to get impatient. That's just the way it is.

MIKE TROSTEL: Thanks, Michelle, for joining us and best of luck this week.

MICHELLE WIE: Thank you.

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