Michelle Wie is back at the U.S. Women's Open.
Her game is back, too.
Humbled by an injury-marred 2007 campaign that strained her relationship with players and the tour and took her to rock bottom, a year in which she averaged 76.4 strokes a round, missed three cuts, withdrew from two events (including the Open) and had just two under-par rounds and a season-best 69th-place in eight LPGA events, the 18-year-old Hawaiian who nearly won three majors when she was 15 insists she is close to 100% healthy.
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And her golf game is right there, too. In her last three competitive events, Wie finished sixth in the German Open, finished second at the 36-hole U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifier in Maryland, and wound up in a tie for 24th at last week's Wegmans LPGA.
"I feel like I'm re-emerging as a new player, a new person," Wie said in a wide-ranging news conference this week at Interlachen Country Club. "I think I can win. I've come with the mentality that I can play good enough to win this week. I'm feeling pretty confident about my game."
In 2007 she only felt pain in a year that began with a broken wrist in January. Saying she wasn't forced by sponsors or her parents, Wie nonetheless played through pain. The power and soft touch around the greens that she displayed as a teenage wonder was gone, replaced by tempered power, frayed shots and poor putting.
"I was in no condition to play," she said. "My wrist was broken, but my mind wasn't broken. I was in no condition to play, I don't know what I was thinking. (I played) because I thought that at any moment it would get better.
"Last year was, 'Oh, God, don't let this hurt.' It's a lot different now. It's doing a lot better. I don't really feel a lot of pain.
"Right now golf is getting a lot more fun. I can actually hit shots."
The year wasn't a total waste. Wie enjoyed her freshman year at Stanford and learned a lifetime of lessons on the golf course. "Well, I definitely learned how not to play," she said. "Sometimes you have to go back to your roots to become a better player and better person. I'm pretty optimistic as a person, but it was pretty tough.
"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.
"Now I'm having fun playing golf again."
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