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June 26, 2007

Michelle Wie West


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you for the 2007 United States Women's Open Championship. And it's so great for all of us to be back here at Pine Needles. Our first guest today, Miss Michelle Wie, who has had quite a bit of success in this championship. Everybody is wanting to know right now, what is the status of your fractured wrist?
MICHELLE WIE: It's doing a lot better. I feel like it's getting better every day. I have good days, and I've had bad days. Some days it doesn't hurt. Some days it hurts. I'm just taking it day-by-day.
But I'm trying to get it stronger. I'm working on it really hard to make it stronger, because over the last five months it's been in a cast and splint, and not playing, I lost a lot of strength in the wrist.
I've been gripping everything I can find, gripping thin air, balls, gripping grippers, just trying to get my grip strength back. I'm working on it and feel like it's getting better.
RHONDA GLENN: I guess the question I encounter most frequently about you, Michelle, is you're just 17 years old. You've got a big career. Who makes the decisions when there are decisions to be made, such as playing in golf tournaments, what kind of schedule you're going to have, is it you, your mom, your dad, your agent, who makes the decisions?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think my parents and my managers, they help me to make my decisions. They all have their advice, and they all advise me. But in the end it's me that makes the decision because everyone realizes that it's my life and I'm the only person that is capable of making decisions. I'm the only person that knows how my wrist is feeling every day.
I like making my own decisions. I've always made my own decisions in whatever I do, whether it's school, whether it's golf, whether it's my personal life. I make most of my decisions. It's just that I have a really good team around me with my family, my friends, and my managers and my coach, David, and everyone who really advises me really well.
But in the end I feel like I make my own decisions.

Q. Michelle, you spent the last several years under a great deal of media pressure, spotlight that very few 17 years old would ever have to endure. Do you get sick of the constant speculation and pressure to win tournaments and become greater than perhaps anyone could ever be?
MICHELLE WIE: No, not really. I think of it as a compliment, because people actually expect a lot of me. And that's really great to know that people actually have expectations of you. The worst feeling in life is when no one has any expectations of you, no one expects you to do great things.
I'm just so grateful that everyone has expectations of me. And it makes me think -- it makes me work even harder, it makes me more determined to do better. I'm just having a lot of fun.

Q. There's a lot of conversation about the impact of the young players in women's golf. What do you see as that impact, not only the skill level of the young players, but also the style with which they play and walk the course.
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's cool. I think a lot of the young players now have, like you said, have a lot of skill and have a lot of style. And that's what we are. That's what young girls want to do. We want to look cool on the golf course. We want take play cool. We want to look cool.
I try to do that. I have to admit. But it's a lot of fun getting there, too.

Q. What's your relationship right now with Annika, is there some confrontation there?
MICHELLE WIE: I haven't really seen her yet.

Q. You turn 18 in October, right?

Q. What are your plans for the fall? You said you're going to go to college. And then in terms of joining the LPGA?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, you know, up until now I haven't made any concrete decisions yet. I'm still going back and forth and taking my time making a decision, because it's a big decision. I'm going to take my time. I'll let you all know when I make that decision.
RHONDA GLENN: Any decision, though, about going to college yet?
A. I've decided I'm going to go to Stanford, and I turned in my housing applications, and I'm waiting to find out who my roommate is, so it's going to be interesting.

Q. When Tiger Woods became a big star there was a lot of talk about his impact on young people in terms of his racial and ethnic identity and bringing more diversity and younger players into the sport who might not have considered it. Would you talk a little bit about how you see yourself and other players, for example, Lorena Ochoa and Nancy Lopez, from other backgrounds, what do you see about bringing other Americans into golf in other backgrounds?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's great that golf is becoming an international sport. I think it's great that everyone can play the game. I think it's so cool that me, myself, being Korean American, I have a lot of Korean pride and a lot of American pride.
When I play I don't think about that stuff. But I hope by me playing golf I can positively influence other people's lives and hopefully get them to play golf, pick up the golf club and experience the same happiness and joy when I play golf. It's just a lot of fun. I hope a lot of people pick it up.

Q. You kept driver in the bag at Bulle Rock for the most part. I'm wondering what your game plan is for this week, if you plan on using it much?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I might pull it out a couple more times than I did there. Like I said, it's a progress. The last couple of weeks I didn't really feel like I was ready to hit the driver, I wasn't strong enough. Hopefully, I'm getting stronger every day. It's a progress that's going to happen.
Hopefully, I'll use the driver a lot more this week and hit a lot more greens and fairways this week, too.

Q. Can you talk about how much you've played and practiced over the last couple of weeks and also what kind of shape you feel your game is in?
MICHELLE WIE: I've been working a lot on my game, a lot on my swing. I was down in Florida and I worked a lot on my swing and my game and I felt like it's getting better and better. I've also worked out. Like I said, I've been gripping everything I can find, just working on grip strength and working on my swing. Basically my thumb is pretty raw, there's no skin on it.

Q. I was wondering what your thoughts were about Pine Needles as an Open Championship course, and what your definition of a champion is?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's so great. This whole area is so awesome here. The pine needles and everything -- I mean Pine Needles Golf Course, putts the pine needles in Pine Needles.
The fairways are pretty nice. The rough wasn't as long as I thought it was going to be. To balance that out, the greens are pretty crazy, a lot of drops here and there. It's a typical Donald Ross golf course.
I'm just so happy to be back in this area because as I was driving from Florida we passed Legacy Golf Links and that's where I played my first Public Links seven years ago already and it's just pretty crazy. I remember what happened. And the USGA does the best job at making a championship. They do a really good job of it. I'm just so honored to be here.

Q. Your definition of an Open Championship?
MICHELLE WIE: Is where the greatest players come and play and compete and just play on a golf course like Pine Needles and you have a championship.

Q. How is this course set up for your game?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I think a golf course is a golf course. There are a couple of holes where I feel comfortable. There are holes where I don't feel comfortable. There's also -- there's trickiness. There's toughness to the golf course. But there are holes where I can make birdie. There's holes where you have to make par.
The golf course is a golf course, they have different characteristics, every single one of them. Whether it fits my golf game or not depends on what my golf game is that day.

Q. Could you clarify, you mentioned you were going back and forth. Was that just with respect to LPGA membership or how much you see yourself playing in September onward? And secondly I was wondering, since you are the boss and you make the decisions, have you just considered sitting out for a while and letting this thing sort of organically heal and go forward after that, rather than putting the strain and stress on it?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, going back and forth, basically on my life and how I want to live it and how much I want to play and how much I can play, and definitely with the LPGA and back and forth, it's everything. I have to think about everything and I do.
And I took the last five months sitting around on my couch and letting it organically heal. I felt like my bone's healed, everything healed. I have to work on it and it is getting stronger. It won't get better by my sitting around doing nothing.
Over the past few years I gained my strength by hitting balls and I have to regain the strength by hitting more balls.
Like I said, I'm back at step one and I have to just build and build and build and work on it. The only way I can do that is by me dedicating myself fully to the game again and like I say to grip anything I can find and work on it and hit balls and just grind through it.
RHONDA GLENN: Michelle, how long did you go without picking up a golf club?
MICHELLE WIE: I went the longest I've ever been since I was 4.
RHONDA GLENN: That was how long?
MICHELLE WIE: That was from -- that was about like four or five months -- four months, basically.

Q. This Public Links you played, was that the ten year old Public Links when you were ten?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, uh-huh.

Q. Was that your first tournament on the mainland?

Q. What memories do you have of that, your first big trip over here and the first USGA event?
MICHELLE WIE: It was so awesome. It was like me being the little kid from Hawaii. I was only on the island. And I was, like, whoa, I can actually not see the ocean from here (laughter).
It was pretty cool being in my first championship golf tournament. I went to the range, and, wow, the range balls are not yellow. That's probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I met Rhonda and Barbara and all the USGA officials.
I was driving by and saw the 9th hole and saw a couple of holes driving by. I said, I remember that hole. I made the cut, I think I was tied for 19th, I was the 19th seed. Unfortunately, I lost my first match, but I remember me crying my head off during the round. After every shot I would just bawl. I was like a five foot eight ten year old, crying my head off and sweating my butt off and crying and then hitting te ball, crying and hitting the ball, and then crying. And thinking about it now it's so laughable.

Q. How long ago did that seem like, when you think about playing here at ten?
MICHELLE WIE: I kept thinking it was like four years ago, but that would only make me 14. But it was actually seven years ago. It kind of makes me feel a little bit old now.
RHONDA GLENN: You know what I remember about that? When your dad was caddieing for you and you were on the 18th hole, the par-5 over the water. And he said, "Michelle, play out here, play safely." And you said, "No, dad, I'm going." And you hit the green, too.
MICHELLE WIE: I think I was crying when I said that, too.

Q. When you've had a wrist injury, what are some of the issues you face trying to get back to having a repeating golf swing? Do you feel like you're getting to the point where your swing is as consistent as it was before your injury?
MICHELLE WIE: It's the first time I ever had an injury before like this. I mean, it wasn't just a sprain. It wasn't just a little tweak, it was a serious injury. And I don't think I've -- I don't think before I realized how serious it was.
I was like, okay, a couple of weeks in a cast, I'll be out, I'll be right where I was. It was my first time I realized that you really have to build at it. And to get back to where I was, I mean, it takes a lot of dedication. And I feel like, like I said, I have good days and I have bad days. Some days it feels good, some days it doesn't.
And that's just the progress. Sometimes you just have to take a step back to make a step forward. I'm just working on it and I feel like it's getting pretty good.

Q. Do you feel like you're getting some consistency?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, definitely working on the consistency, because your wrist and your hands are the first connection to your golf club and it's your bread and butter. Basically, like I said, I have good days and bad days, but I'm working on it to become consistent.

Q. Will you continue to play in men's events or is that one of the things that you're going back and forth on?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, no, that's definitely not what I'm going back and forth on. I definitely want to play in men's events in the future. Like I said, that's why I am trying to get my strength back and try to be the best player I can be and just to play in tournaments I want to play in.

Q. Have you had a chance to meet Alexis Thompson, whether you have or not, is there any advice you can give her on dealing with the crush of attention she will get here?
RHONDA GLENN: She's a 12 year old.
MICHELLE WIE: No, I haven't met her yet, I haven't seen her. I think it's awesome that she made the qualifying here. I think it's just awesome. I hope she plays really well this week and just to focus on the course and not her game. It's just only a game, anyways.

Q. When you withdrew from the John Deere you said it was because your wrist wasn't going to be ready. And yet you're playing this week. How is it you not be healthy enough in two weeks, but you're healthy enough now?
MICHELLE WIE: That was a decision that I made. I just felt like I wasn't ready to play in the John Deere. I heard that they lengthened the course this year. I'm not as strong as I can be, and I'm not hitting the ball as long as I can. So I felt like if I'm not hitting the ball as long as I can this week then I won't be able to hit it in two weeks. And come on, this is a U.S. Freaking Open this week, I'm not going to miss it for anything (laughter).
RHONDA GLENN: Michelle, you mentioned you still want to play in men's events, do you have the same motivation that you did when you talked to us when you were ten years old when you said you wanted to play in The Masters.
MICHELLE WIE: I still do. It just never changes. I think even more so, I'm even more dedicated and more motivated now, over the last five months I just was sitting around not doing nothing. And that motivated me even more. I just wanted to play even more because I wasn't able to. I just realized how precious this game is and how just wonderful it is. It made me realize how grateful I was to actually be out here and to play. I haven't lost it at all.
RHONDA GLENN: Still want to play in The Masters.
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah, definitely.

Q. I imagine you did not read it, but there was a story in this morning's Detroit News quoting Mac O'Grady, to the effect that Tiger Woods is not doing what he's doing with anything but technical equipment. And what he's saying is he is not on a par with Nicklaus or Palmer with a driver because it's equipment. And down in the story it quotes Mac as saying, "What Michelle Wie is doing is not humanly possible. It's technologically possible because the balls go too straight, they go too far." Do you have any reply to what Mac said?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, well, first of all, I didn't read the Detroit News, because I'm not in Detroit. I have to give credit to Nike and -- because they really -- I mean Tom Stites and Rocky, they do do technically impossible things with the driver that just came out, the Sumo and the Sumo Square. It's amazing when you hit a driver, you think, it can't be better than this, and they always make better drivers and always make the ball go straighter and always make the ball go longer.
And it's just -- I think it enhances the game. Obviously the golf courses are balancing it out by making it longer, but I think that's part of the game to make it technologically advanced, because this world is getting technologically advanced. But at the same time it's not giving anyone an advantage, because once you get technologically advanced you're on the same plane then.
It's a constant struggle for us players and for a golf company as well to get on top. And I think that's the interesting part of the game.

Q. In other words, you're saying all the girls are better because of technology?
MICHELLE WIE: I'm saying that everyone is on a fair ground because everyone is using technology.

Q. You said roommate, so I'm guessing dorm?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, freshman dorm.

Q. Are you going to be able to pull off being a normal student eating dorm food or are you going to be crashing mom and dad and raiding the refrigerator. Is normalcy okay for you?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yes. No one said I could graduate high school. I went to a regular high school. I'm so excited to go in a dorm. The cafeteria was a lot better than I actually thought. They have a lot of food. And they actually have rice there, so I'm really excited for that (laughter). The one thing I'm not so excited about, when I went to Stanford, they only had two shower stalls per floor. I'll have to wake up at 5:00 to get showered. But I think it's part of life. I think everyone in this room went to a dorm, and everyone in this room wished their dorm room was bigger or wished there are no cockroaches on the ground or wished their roommate was sane. That's part of life, you're going to get good stuff and going to get bad stuff in life.

Q. Most of us tried to get out after one semester.
MICHELLE WIE: I'm sure I'll feel the same way, too.
RHONDA GLENN: Are you still dedicated toward getting your degree?
MICHELLE WIE: Most definitely. I've already accepted the fact that I'm not going to take four years to graduate. And I think that just realizing the reality of the situation has prepared me more for college. It's just great because I get to experience college life a little bit longer.
RHONDA GLENN: What are you going to major in?
MICHELLE WIE: I haven't really decided about that yet. Part of me wants to do economics and part of me wants to do communications and part of me wants to do marketing or part of me wants to do architecture. There's so many things. There's so many possibilities. I think I'll take a lot of different classes there.

Q. Ten years ago Laura Davies was deep in the fairway by herself, now she seems to have more and more company. How long are the hitters in women's golf today?
MICHELLE WIE: I think they're getting a lot stronger. I think that everyone realized that fitness is really important. And I'm jumping on the band wagon, too, just really working out. I'm gripping everything I can find.
Girls are stronger, we're getting genetically stronger, too, and we're working at it and realizing that just being skinny won't do it. We have to work at it and we have to eat healthy and work hard. I just think that technology has helped, and -- but like I said, everyone is on a fair ground and it's a constant struggle to get stronger and a constant struggle to be a better player.

Q. Is this course long enough for you guys?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think it's long. It's a nice golf course. The greens are crazy. I think it's a fair golf course, but a very challenging golf course.

Q. When you go to Stanford, for example, Tiger said when he went to Stanford that he realized his golf game was going to regress slightly while he was there. Are you prepared for that or do you feel like it's still going to be an upward curve for your golf game or are you willing to accept that perhaps you'll regress slightly or compromise your progress in golf slightly?
MICHELLE WIE: I actually think that going to college will help my golf game a lot. Because in high school I had no flexibility in my schedule. I had no say whether I wanted afternoon classes or night classes or whether I wanted morning classes. I had to practice in the afternoon every single day in the same conditions.
Whereas, I'll be in Stanford. I've never played in cold weather before. In Hawaii, the weather never changes, read the newspaper, it's always 85 and sunny. In Stanford you'll get cold days and rainy days and fog days and all different kind of days, and I can change my schedule, where I can have night classes, I can have afternoon classes, I can have morning classes where I can be, like, oh, I'll play in the morning or today I'll play in the afternoon.
There's so much more flexibility in college and I can make three day weekends, hopefully. And stuff like that.
So I think that going to college will indirectly force me not to think about golf too much, but at the same time give me more flexibility. And Stanford has a great golf course and they're building a new practice facility which is going to be awesome. I think I can improve my golf game a lot. And it's only an hour from Pebble Beach and Olympic and all the great golf courses, so I'm just really excited.

Q. I'm curious if you think you're going to be able to get enough strength back in your wrist to play men's events this year or maybe that will have to wait until the turn of the calendar before trying that again?
MICHELLE WIE: I have to wait and see. I'm taking it day-by-day. There's no set schedule for this kind of stuff. Like I said, this is my first injury, I've never experienced anything like it before. I'm taking it day-by-day and trying to make the smartest decisions for myself, my health and for my game.
Right now getting my strength back is the most important thing. And trying to get my shots to be really consistent in the fairways and the greens is also the most important thing. So I'm just working on that right now.
My tournament schedule, I'm not really sure yet. I have to take it day-by-day and see how I feel.

Q. How many classes do you plan to take? How many do you have to take?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's about 12 to 15 class credits. So it's probably like two or three minimum.

Q. Do you anticipate spending more time on the golf course or in the library?
MICHELLE WIE: I definitely think more time on the golf course. I'm not much of a library person.
RHONDA GLENN: Michelle, you've been under an extraordinary amount of pressure this year, I would say. How have you rallied to deal with that? What do you do to deal with your nerves and the kind of off-course pressures that you've been dealing with.
MICHELLE WIE: I just -- I like to call my friends. I like to call back home, talk to my friends and talk to my girlfriends and my guy friends and just listen to their troubles for once and just talk about silly stuff, be stupid and just be goofy and just not to think about anything, just not have a care in the world. And just to lie on my bed and just lay sprawled out and just do nothing is what I like to do, just be lazy and just talk on the phone for hours.
My friends always know how to cheer me up. They're always there for me. They don't care what everyone writes, they know the real me. I like to support -- lean on the support of my family and friends.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you so much for being with us and good luck on Thursday.
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