Born on October 11, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Michelle Wie displayed immense potential after learning to play golf at age 4. She qualified for a USGA tournament at age 10, and at 14 she became the youngest female to compete against men in a PGA Tour event. After claiming her first LPGA victory in 2010, the former prodigy won her first major tournament at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.
Early Years and Amateur Success
Golfer. Born Wie Sung-mi on October 11, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The daughter of South Korean immigrants, Wie began playing golf at age 4. At 10, she was the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship. In 2003, at the Women's Amateur Public Links, she became the youngest player ever to win a USGA event for adults.
In 2004 at age 14, Wie became the fourth female, and the youngest ever, to play in an event on the PGA Tour at the Sony Open in Hawaii. She missed the cut by just one shot. That year, Wie became the youngest woman ever selected to the play on the U.S. team, which went on to win.
Growing to a height of 6 feet, the "Big Wiesy" became known for her long drives. Her average drive was about 280 yards at the age of 16. In 2005, she became the first female golfer to qualify for a USGA national men's tournament. She told Time magazine that she hoped to become the first woman to play at the Masters Championship.
That same year, Wie had a second place finish behind Annika Sorenstam at the McDonald's LPGA Championships and came in third at the Women's British Open. Around the time of her 16th birthday, she announced that she was turning professional, reportedly signing sponsorship contracts with Nike and Sony worth more than $10 million per year.
Wie's pro career got off to a bumpy start when she was disqualified from the 2005 Samsung World Championship for a rules violation. During the 2006 season, Wie rallied with a string of Top 5 finishes in LPGA tournaments. She tied for third with Natalie Gulbis at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. At the U.S. Women's Open, Wie ended up in a three-way tie for third place with Se Ri Pak and Stacy Prammanasudh.
Also in 2006, Wie continued to compete in the men's tournaments. She became the second woman to make the cut at a men's tournament in South Korea and finished first in a local qualifying tournament for the Men's U.S. Open. At the 2006 John Deere Classic, Wie ran into difficulty dealing with the heat and was taken away from the course by ambulance.
Her 2007 season was marred by wrist injuries. In January, Wie broke her left wrist while jogging. She also developed problems with her right wrist as well. At the 2007 Sony Open, Wie did not make the cut. She then found herself under intense scrutiny after withdrawing from the 2007 Ginn Tribute, which was being hosted by Annika Sorenstam.
After playing 16 holes, Wie was approached by her manager on the course and they decided that she could not continue because of her wrist. Others speculated that she may have been worried about the LGPA's "88 Rule," which states that a non-tour member who fails to break that score in a round is unable to compete in LGPA events for the remainder of the season.
In 2008, Wie seemed to be faring better. She had a sixth place finish at the Ladies German Open. At the Wegman's LGPA in June, Wie ended up in a three-way tie for 24th place with Mi Hyun Kim and Jennifer Rosales. She started out strong at the State Farm Classic in July, but she ended up being disqualified for a rules violation.
In late July, Wie decided not to play in the Women's British Open. She instead chose to try for a spot at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, a PGA event. Some of her peers in the LPGA openly questioned her decision. "I really don't know why Michelle continues to do this," said Annika Sorenstam, according to an Associated Press report. "I think, if she wants to be a golfer, she should really concentrate on being on the women's tour and dealing with them and learning to win," added Helen Alfredsson.
After earning her tour card for the 2009 season, Wie finally began enjoying sustained success. She won her first LPGA event in November at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, and the following August she topped the field at the CN Women's Canadian Open.
More Top 10 finishes followed before Wie earned her third tour win, at the LPGA Lotte Championship in April 2014. That June, the 24-year-old claimed her biggest win to date with a thrilling victory at the U.S. Women's Open. Facing intense pressure on the final day, Wie sank a 25-foot putt to hold off top-ranked Stacy Lewis and fulfill more than a decade's worth of lofty expectations.
Wie began attending Stanford University as a part-time student in 2007, before graduating in 2012 with a degree in Communications. In addition to golf, she maintains a strong interest in art and enjoys spending free time with her Pomeranian, Lola.
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