Second-year LPGA Tour member Michelle Wie might only be 20, but the Honolulu, Hawaii, native has already competed in 20 major championships, including six U.S. Women’s Opens. The 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion recently discussed her preparations for the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania with Lynn DeBruin.
Q. What is special about playing in a U.S. Women's Open?
Wie: The history and the long list of champions that have won there. Growing up in America, it's the tournament to win.
Q. What do you know about Oakmont?
Wie: I went there last week and played two rounds. It definitely seems very challenging. You have to hit the fairways. The men when they played there [in 2007], the scores were very high. I'd say par would be a very good score.
Q. What's the scariest part of the course?
Wie: The bunkers are definitely hazards. Once you get in there, you have to chip out. And there's a lot of blind shots, and the greens are very slopey.
Q. What is your game plan for the course?
Wie: You have to have your A game. There will be a lot of par putts where you have to get up and down and grind it out all week.
Q. Since finishing tied for third in the 2006 Women’s Open, you've either been injured, missed the cut or did not play. What are your expectations this year?
Wie: I want to be healthy and do well. I have to grind it out all week. I know that's not going to be easy … hopefully I can win.
Q. The Solheim Cup seemed to be your coming-of-age party. What did that event do for you?
Wie: It helped me learn to handle certain things, pressure situations. And there was so much camaraderie. Golf can be boring sometimes because it's a solo sport. It was fun to be part of a team.
Q. With Lorena Ochoa's recent retirement, there is no dominant player on tour, no clear-cut No. 1. Does the game need that?
Wie: I feel like we're all trying really hard. The competition is getting harder and harder. Everybody has brought their game up. It'd be nice to get to the top.
Q. Can you be that person?
Wie: I definitely aspire to be.
Q. So what will it take to get over that hurdle?
Wie: Hard work. Just believing in myself. I constantly have to believe in myself and not have any fear but trust in myself. Sometimes it's not as easy as I want it to be.
Q. One of your best friends on the LPGA Tour is Christina Kim? What has she meant to you?
Wie: She's a lot of fun. I absolutely adore her. She's always been there for me. She's someone to go to for advice. It's nice having a friend who is really your friend.
Q. How are you different than the young phenom who tried to compete against the men?
Wie: When I first came out, I didn't know what was going on. I was so young. It was like, 'Oh, I’ve got to play. No big deal.' Now I feel like I know what I'm doing, what I have to do to play well. I feel like I take more responsibility in my goals and how to get there. I'm more determined.
Q. How has college at Stanford helped?
Wie: It's great. I was scared when I first went that no one would like me and I'd be a complete outcast and would fail my classes. But it's been great. It's really helped me a lot. I've met a lot of friends. It was hard at first, but I feel like Stanford made me grow up, not living with my parents but taking care of myself, managing college and my social life and golf. I grew up a lot.
Q. How do you unwind or spend some down time?
Wie: I love to make clothes and I love to bake and cook. I've made edible things and things I can wear without being embarrassed. I make skirts and dresses.
Q. And your favorite dish?
Wie: I make a good pecan pie, strawberry tart cookies and brownies. I bake vegan, using things like applesauce.
Q. Are you vegan?
Wie: No. I have a lot of allergies so when I bake I have to be vegan. But I eat meat.
Q. Your life is so public, but tell us something people might not know about you?
Wie: I'm a huge nerd. I like weird things. I'm a lot goofier than people think I am. I'm so serious on the golf course they think I'm serious off the golf course. I'm not.
Q. So what's the goofiest thing you've done the past year?
Wie: I was Green Man from [the TV sitcom] It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It was fun being completely faceless and doing goofy things.
Q. You already stood out for those size 10 feet? Are you still that size?
Wie: I think my feet are shrinking. I have a theory: it’s why I fall over so much. I end up falling standing up sometimes. [I] fall in holes and always seem to hit things. It’s why I have little bruises all over my body.
Q. You recently switched putting coaches from Dave Stockton to Dave Pelz. What was the reason?
Wie: I like to get ideas from different people. Nothing’s really firm yet. I’m still with David Leadbetter. He’s still my main coach.
Q. You’ve developed a reputation for being quite the prankster. Can you elaborate?
Wie: I get pranked on a lot, too. Leadbetter has [gotten] me. He put wasabi in my green tea and I drank it. After I swallowed it my throat started burning. I have yet to get him back, but I will think of something.
Lynn DeBruin is a Colorado-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship websites.