Once one of the biggest attractions in the game, teenager Michelle Wie cuts a much lower profile at this week's U.S. Women's Open.
The 18-year-old American had to qualify to book a place in the field for the third women's major of the season after being troubled by a wrist injury throughout her 2007 campaign.
Now studying fulltime at Stanford University in California, Wie believes her lengthy battle for fitness has made her a humbler person.
"Sometimes you have to go back to your roots to become a better player and better person," Wie told reporters at Interlachen Country Club on Tuesday.
"I'm pretty optimistic as a person, but it was pretty tough," she added, referring to her struggles last year when she broke par only twice in 19 rounds on the LPGA Tour.
"It was tough to be positive. It was tough at times to have fun out there. I really had to learn myself, learn my game, learn my limits, learn my swing."
Wie, who tied for third in the 2006 U.S. Women's Open at Newport Country Club, was one of 84 players who had to qualify for this year's edition.
"I think going through that qualifying humbled me a lot as a player, as a person," she said.
The game's most trumpeted teenager since Tiger Woods, Wie turned professional in 2005 at the age of 15, signing endorsement deals worth $10 million per year that made her one of the highest paid athletes in women's sport.
She admits, though, she made a mistake in playing any golf last year with an injured wrist.
"I was in no condition to play, I don't know what I was thinking," the statuesque Hawaiian said. "It's because I thought that at any moment it would get better.
"My wrist was broken but my mind wasn't broken," she said. "Looking back on it, I think that just prolonged my injury."
Wie believes she is making a fresh beginning in golf.
"I feel like I'm re-emerging as a new player, a new person," said the Honolulu native, who has been tipped to become one of the best female golfers of all time. "I'm never, ever going to think about last year again."
Wie, who stunned the sporting world in 2004 when she narrowly failed to become the first female to make the cut in a men's PGA Tour event, is eager to fulfil her potential.
"I want to see how good I can get," she said.
"I've come with the mentality that I can play good enough to win this week. I'm feeling pretty confident about my game. I don't think I've reached my full potential at all yet." (Editing by Ed Osmond)
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