After over a year off from competition, Punahou graduate Michelle Wie West is making her LPGA return this week at the KIA Classic in Southern California. A lot has changed for Wie West since the last time we saw her on the course. The former US Open winner is a new mom to her baby daughter, McKenna. Being a mom is Wie West’s new number-1 priority, but she makes it absolutely clear that McKenna is also the reason she’s playing again.
“I thought I was done to be honest. After the KPMG in 2019 I thought I was done, especially when I found out I was pregnant later that year. I though that cemented it. I thought that there was no chance of me coming back. I even told my husband that. He was like ‘No, No, just think it through.’ Then we found out McKenna was going to be a girl and that completely changed my perspective on everythin,” the 5-time LPGA champion said in her tournament press conference on Wednesday, “It was crazy how that one little fact kind of just changes everything. Then I started to think I kind of want to do it. I want to show her in real time that I play golf. It’s one thing to have her watch YouTube videos but it’s another thing to have her watch it with her own eyes.”
Feeling healthy and rejuvenated, Wie West cranked up her preparation for her return at the beginning of the year. Health has been a concern throughout her career. At the 2019 LOTTE Championship here in Hawai’i, she was often seen finishing one handed or flexing her right hand after shots. That would end up being the wrist injury that would force her to withdraw from the 2019 US Open.
Today is exactly two years to the day since that Instagram announcement. That is a long time off without playing competitive golf, it could also be a perfect reset for a career resurrection. Wie West hopes it starts this week at the KIA, then next week to the first major of the year, and hopefully a homecoming in the middle of April.
“I especially love next week. The ANA has always been a special tournament to me, to be at Mission Hills. That was a big goal for me to get ready for that. Obviously, going back home to play in Hawai’i is also a big goal.”
The 2021 LOTTE Championship is April 14-17 and Wie West is scheduled to be in the field at the moment. If she does end up teeing up, she will have to win her 2nd LOTTE Trophy on a new course. The tournament announced today that Kapolei Golf Club will be hosting this year’s event.