Michelle Wie always thought if she ever had children, that would be the end of her golf. Now she is more inspired than ever to return.
Wie, who married Golden State Warriors executive Jonnie West in August, announced they are having their first child — a girl — this summer.
“I do know, especially now having a baby girl, the motivation to come back is even stronger,” Wie said during a conference call Friday. “Because I'm having a girl, I want her to see me play, and be a strong woman. That's really important. I always thought I'd be the person that I'm going to quit when I have kids. Now it's different.”
Wie has been one of the most recognizable players in women's golf from from the time she was a teen prodigy in Hawaii, coming within one shot of making the cut at the Sony Open on the PGA Tour as a ninth-grader at nearby Punahou School.
Her surprise announcement on Instagram capped off 10 months she described as a whirlwind.
On the golf course, she never fully recovered from wrist surgery and played only four tournaments. Her last event was the KPMG Women's PGA at Hazeltine, where she opened with an 84 and tearfully wondered how much longer she could keep going.
Off the course, life was never better. Wie and West, the son of NBA great Jerry West, announced their engagement in March. They were married in August and Wie, who graduated from Stanford, moved back to the Bay Area.
And now they're starting a family.
“I'm so blessed — 2019 could have been a bad year for me,” Wie said.
Wie, who turned 30 in October, has five victories on the LPGA Tour. The biggest was the U.S. Women's Open in 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2, one week after the men's U.S. Open on the Donald Ross design. But her career has been slowed by injuries, even as a teenager, and the most recent injury raised speculation she might be done.
Wie worked for Golf Channel in the studio during the Solheim Cup, and CBS Sports announced late last year it was adding her to its broadcast team, including a role on one of its platforms at the Masters, though specifics have not been revealed.
Having a daughter on the way has changed her outlook.
Wie said the first trimester was a struggle — “I don't think they should call it morning sickness. It's 24/7," she said with a laugh — but she even raised the notion of playing before the baby arrives. She says she has chipped and putted, but mostly stayed in the house upon learning she was pregnant.
“Ideally, I would love to have the experience of playing while pregnant. We'll see," Wie said. “I'm not ruling anything out.”
Wie says she has long admired women on the LPGA Tour who have played after having children, notably Solheim Cup captains Juli Inkster and Catriona Matthew, most recently Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller. She always wanted to fashion herself after Lorena Ochoa, who retired at No. 1 in the world because she wanted to start a family.
“When she did that, I thought that was pretty cool,” Wie said.
She also thought about Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who stepped away from golf when she had a son, returned at the urging of Matthew and made a 7-foot putt on the final hole to win the Solheim Cup for Europe.
And she thought about Tiger Woods and the moment he shared at Augusta National in April.
“I see Tiger winning the Masters again, the comments he made about how special it was that his kids were out there and saw him play. Things like that motivate me,” Wie said. “It's definitely a dream for my kids to be in the crowd and watch me play.”
For now, Wie says she has kept busy with various projects. Along with her golf, Wie is known for her artistic flair from painting to fashion. But her spare time does not making clothes for her daughter.
“I will not be knitting baby clothes. I'll be buying,” she said. “I don't have the patience.”