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Michelle Wie West embraces new kind of major moment

Michelle Wie West prepares for 2021 U.S. Women's Open
Michelle Wie West returns to the U.S. Women’s Open this week in her adopted hometown of San Francisco.

On rebound from wrist injury, Wie West returns to U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club as a changed woman in the game of life

Michelle Wie West will be playing her first major championship in more than two years this week, and the U.S. Women’s Open has taken on added significance for the former champion.

It’s a home game.

When Wie last competed in one of women’s golf’s biggest events, she tearfully left the 2019 Women’s PGA, clutching an injured right wrist after rounds of 84-82 at Hazeltine National. She eventually underwent surgery and did not compete for more than 1½ years during rehabilitation.

Fast forward to this week at Olympic Club in San Francisco, site of the 76th U.S. Women’s Open. Wie – now Wie West – at age 31 has become a wife and mother and lives in the Bay Area.

“It's a really cool feeling being here,” she said. “I guess just staying at my house these two weeks is pretty nice. I've never had that happen before at a major tournament.”

Wie West, whose five LPGA victories include the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, holds no outsized expectations for this week. In three tournaments this season – her first starts since that painful exit at the 2019 Women’s PGA – she has yet to make a cut, with only two of the six rounds under par. After practice rounds early this week, she called Olympic “tough” and “a beast."

Still, she’s feeling well and excited to be competing again after fearing two years ago that her career might be finished.

“It's really amazing to be back,” she said. “It's an honor.”

Wie West was thrust into the golf spotlight as a child when, at age 10, she became the youngest qualifier for a USGA event, the 2000 Women’s Amateur Public Links. In 2002, she won the Hawaii Women’s Open by 13 shots and, at age 12, became the youngest qualifier for an LPGA event. One year later, at the Kraft Nabisco, she made the 36-hole cut as a 13-year-old, setting another age record. Later that year, she became the youngest USGA champion with her victory at the Women’s Public Links. Still only 13, she made the cut at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open, once again setting an age record in the process. She turned pro at age 15. Over the years, she also made eight highly publicized starts on the PGA Tour but made no cuts.

Now, Wie West returns to competition with a different set of priorities, at home and on the golf course. Her husband, Jonnie West, is an executive with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the son of basketball legend Jerry West. The couple have a daughter, 1-year-old Makenna. Wie West was voted onto the LPGA’s board of directors, and she will serve as an assistant captain at the biennial Solheim Cup matches against Europe on Sept. 4-6 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Wie West will be paired with two other former U.S. Women’s Open champions, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr, for Thursday’s first round at Olympic. (For tee times, click here.)

She also is leaving her mark on the game by leading the LPGA’s #HoodieForGolf campaign. The initiative, marked by cotton-candy tie-dyed LPGA hoodies, raises money for the Renee Powell Grant and the Clearview Legacy Foundation

“It's been really, really amazing, the support, and people wearing it, tagging me on Instagram,” Wie West said. “It just makes my day seeing the different types of people wearing it, and kids wearing it and people that you don't expect to wear it.”

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