I tilt my head and glance at people peeking in the Gallery Cafe at Pebble Beach or at visitors sitting on the patio overlooking the cypress-protected 18th green by Stillwater Cove. I saw him fall. They showed up during luncheons with Brandi Chastain and Kristy Yamaguchi, while walking up the stairs and in the lobby.
It’s Michelle Wee Westits six-foot fixture represents a collective memory and history of modern golf.
She didn’t win as much as she wanted, and not as many people thought she should or should have won. But even after nearly a quarter of a century in her limelight, she is still one of the most savvy stars in women’s golf history, and she’s known as a star by many outside of golf, even if she doesn’t know it. is a player who is
The competitive golf portion of Wee’s life will likely be over by sundown Sunday, when the U.S. Women’s Open is due to end at Pebble Beach. Wee West’s husband will caddy for her for the first time, and she’s been playing very little lately, so it could be over by dusk Friday if things don’t pan out. She doesn’t plan to return to elite competition after the British Open, but she avoids the word ‘retired’ in public (even in private, she confesses, she uses it occasionally). are doing).
she is 33 years old.
It was so fast.
In 2000, when Bill Clinton was president, when she was 10, she competed in the All-American Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She won the event at the age of 13, and at the same age she qualified for the LPGA tournament, placing her third on the major tournament weekend leaderboards. She competed in a PGA Tour event at 14, turned pro at 15, had three Top 5 finishes in her first three majors as a professional, battled wrist problems, and won the British Open at 24. After winning the Open, I spent years plagued with injuries, cuts and withdrawals. than a strong show.
It wasn’t that fast after all. But soon, it looks like it will be done. Barring a victory this weekend or a surprise in the years to come, Wee West will finish with five wins on the LPGA Tour, including the 2014 Pinehurst Open, which tied for 69th on the all-time wins list. This has had a much better career than most players, but the high expectations that followed Wee West from the beginning and flowed from the amalgamation of youth, talent, celebrity, and marketability in the Internet age Although it falls short. (For comparison, 34-year-old Park In-bi from South Korea, who has won seven majors, hasn’t been in the public eye for a long time like Wee West.)
“What’s the perfect word for this?” Wee West said in an interview in the sun-drenched lounge, out of earshot of the aide.
“I am very confident that I have the career I wanted,” she eventually continued. “Of course I wish I had done more. I think everyone would.”
But she said, “what-ifs, regrets and ‘I wish I could have done better’ can really drive you crazy.”
Even her career change announcement last year was derailed when her husband contracted COVID-19 and Wee West’s parents stayed home to help with child care, to use her publicly preferred term. Wee West was ready to detail her rest-up on Instagram the week before, but she finished almost solo at the 2022 North Carolina Open.
Frustrated by injuries, she spent years pondering whether she should stop playing, but lately she’s been torn by the thought of the limited time the family of three has together. In 2021, her former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s lewd comments about Wee West gave her a new sense of purpose.
Ultimately, though, when he realized the price of the game was too high in the end, and worried that his body would break down so badly that he wouldn’t even be able to make a round to have fun with his daughter, The point came eventually, she said. Since then, her clubs have mostly been in the bag.
“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s hard to know when the right time is to walk away.”
That’s partly because for athletes in any sport, quitting the sport means the stats are over and, with a few exceptions, the résumés are frozen. For Wee West, her retirement or transfer, or whatever you want to call it, is bound to spark an inevitable debate about whether she was wasting her talent or overhyping it. meant.
Of course she hears it. She understands that too.
“People love to cry and have their own feelings and such, and they have full rights to that. They’ve invested in my career,” she said. “I know I haven’t won as many wins as I should have.”
At the same time, he seems to question how fair it is. She earned her degree from Stanford University and won the US Open. She thinks these two feats of hers are things she wanted to do anyway.
Yet she still gets to go through all the ways her career could have been different. If she had kept her leading share at the 2005 Cherry Hills Open, she would have been successful in her quest to earn a spot at the Masters that year. Had she qualified for her first event on the PGA Tour instead of missing out with a stroke, she would have been out.
She’s entering this week’s 156-man Women’s Open with high hopes for a deep field.
Reigning champion Minzy Lee has won two majors since 2021 but is not ranked in the top five in the world. And then there’s Rose Chan, a 20-year-old Stanford student who won her debut tournament as a pro last month. Teeing off Thursday at 8:28 a.m. PT, Wee West’s group includes three-time major champion Yin Zhi Chun, who has won 10 career majors and has a special waiver for this week’s entry. Annika Sorenstam is included.
This spring, Wee West explores how he needs to build up his stamina to prepare for the rigors of majors, especially how he’s honing his irons and wedges before returning to golf’s biggest event of the year. I was wondering if it was necessary. On one of the sport’s most beloved courses.
“You have to believe in yourself. Just get to a point where you have the confidence to make shots and putts,” she said. “And I hope that everything will come true soon.”
She intends to remain closely involved with the sport and recently hosted an LPGA tournament that Zhang won. However, she insisted she didn’t think much of how it changed her perception of the sport that still fascinates her.
She still plays with her husband and believes that winning or losing a major has unlocked the mysteries of the sport like any other golfer who has never actually played. Told.
“Once you get that feeling, it feels really good and you’re like, ‘I feel like I know the game.'” I get it! ‘ she said. “I still find myself saying that almost every time I play, so I know there’s a desire to get better.”
In a long time it will soon be out of the spotlight.
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