Michelle Wie burst onto the golf scene as a ten-year-old, and she looked destined to have a great career on the course. The media thought they had found the latest golfing prodigy, and she was tipped to be the Tiger Woods of ladies golf. We’re looking at her rise to fame and what followed when the pressure was on.
Destined for greatness
Wie was a child prodigy, and at the tender age of ten years old, she became the youngest player to ever qualify for a USGA amateur competition. Then at 11, she won the Hawaii State Women’s Stroke Play Championship. The following year she won an amateur event by 13 shots and then qualified for an LPGA event, becoming the youngest ever to do so.
She didn’t manage to make it to the later stages of the tournament, but she was playing against world-class female golfers. Wie’s amateur status seemed to be at risk as she was proving too good for her competitors, it was now only a matter of time before she turned professional. In 2003 she became the youngest woman ever to win a USGA event, and at that moment she became a sponsor’s dream.
Wie was a hit with the sponsors, and she was invited to play a PGA event, becoming just the fourth female golfer to be welcomed. In top form, Wie played honorably and beat 47 men in the competition, but she was unable to make the cut and progress to the later stages. Wie was offered a huge sponsorship deal, earning herself a bumper $10 million for contracts with Nike and Sony. The golfer had just announced she was turning professional, a week shy of her 16th birthday. The world was Wie’s oyster, and she was now the biggest attraction in golf.
Although Wie was good enough to turn professional, there was no tour for her to join. The LPGA would not accept her until she turned 18, so Wie had two years out in the wilderness, only competing at events her sponsors invited her along to. Without regular competition Wie found it hard to place highly in the tournaments she was invited to. She announced she was heading to Stanford University following high school, but because she had already declared herself a professional, she was unable to play golf.
Returning to form
It looked as though all of Wie’s promise was not going to be fulfilled, but she battled back and began winning tournaments when she was old enough to play on the LPGA. Wie found the strong amateur form that had made her a golfing prodigy and brought it to her professional game. In 2014 she won her first major golf tournament when she took home the U. S. Women’s Open.
The developmental years she spent unable to compete might have harmed her game, meaning Michelle Wie didn’t turn out to be the female Tiger Woods many hoped. She is currently ranked among the top 40 female golfers in the world , and she won the women’s World Championship in 2018.