An Interview With: Michelle Wie

MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2005 United States Women's Open, which is the 60th Women's Open and it is the 54th conducted by the United States Golf Association.

Our first guest today is Miss Michelle Wie who is having the summer of her life, I would say, having qualified for the APL Championship, the first woman to ever qualify for a men's USGA Championship. Having finished second twice on the LPGA Tour including twice at the LPGA Championship. All of you know that. Let's proceed.

Michelle, what do you think about the kind of year you are having?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, it's great. I am having a lot of fun. I feel like to this point it was a lot better than last year and I feel like I am improving and it feels great.

MODERATOR: Is there one single characteristic you think that you have that helps you play great golf?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think that the one characteristic that everyone knows is that I hit the ball long and that brings a lot into play for me, like, I can hit drivers and I can hit 4-irons. I have a lot of fun hitting that. These days I feel like my short game is a lot better. I feel like that's one of my strong points these days, too.

MODERATOR: I asked another USGA champion that, she said she felt that perseverance was the thing that helped her most in her career. That's the kind of thing I am talking about.

MICHELLE WIE: Oh, that kind of thing. I think that the thing the one characteristic that I have is (laughs), I think, well, the fact that I don't really listen to anyone and that I believe really strongly in what I do and that I am not really afraid of anything. I don't think, what if, oh, what if I play bad, what if I do this. I mean, I think that's one of the things that I really feel like that helps me to, you know, overcome a lot of things.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions from the audience.

Q. The strength of your game is hitting long, but with the rough so high, do you need to adjust your game at all maybe a little bit to manage the course because of the rough?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, definitely. This isn't the widest golf course here and the rough is pretty long, so just basically keep the ball in the short stuff. I definitely kind of tweaked my game a little accordingly. But just my main focus is hitting fairways and greens like every week, basically.

Q. Talking about hitting the ball a long way. I understand you came pretty close to No. 1 today with your driver, how far away from the green were you?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I mean, it's a really tough green to hit balls. It's surrounded by a really thick rough and unless you hit it straight, fly it on the green, it's hard to keep it on or fly it there. But I don't think that's the right play there and who knows, maybe it's a really strong wind or it just feels like it.

MODERATOR: How far away were you from the green today?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, when I played it on Friday I was about like about 10 to 15 yards short. I was right in the rough area.

MODERATOR: Under 15 yards?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. Has there been any surprises for you by being in Colorado and the golf course? Anything different?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, the altitude is definitely fun because you hit your driver extra long and it made me realize that I have to gain distance, and if I can hit my shots as long as I hit it here on sea level, then I think I will be okay on the Tour.

It's really fun playing up here. I mean, the first day I have to admit, I was a little bit tired because of the altitude but I am getting pretty used to it by now.

MODERATOR: How many practices rounds have you played? How many days have you been here?

MICHELLE WIE: I played on Friday. I played three rounds.

Q. Just curious, do you know the history of the first hole here?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes, I do. A lot of people have told me many times before, and it's great. I mean, it's really wonderful how he hit that hole with the Persimmon wood. I could have never really imagined hitting with a wood head driver. I think it's great, Arnold Palmer is one of my favorite golfers. I really admire what he has done.

Q. Have you ever hit a Persimmon club?

MICHELLE WIE: I actually started with a Persimmon club. I had a Persimmon driver, 3-wood and Persimmon 5-wood.

Q. You must have been two years old?

MICHELLE WIE: No, I didn't want to change to a metal wood. It took me a lot to change when I was seven years old. I actually really liked my 3-wood. It felt really good, it felt solid. It's different going from a Persimmon to a metal. Actually I do know what it feels like and I am not that young.

MODERATOR: Do you still have those clubs?

MICHELLE WIE: I do. They are in my closet.

Q. Did you feel any differently as a player after the LPGA, after it sunk in and how might that translate here?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, a second-place finish is just a second-place finish for me. I realize what I have to work on and I am not -- I was very happy when I got the second place, but I want to do better.

Q. What is the status of your driver's license and second question, Annika is 34, does that seem old to you?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, compared to me, I guess, but that's not old at all. My driver's license, I get my driver's license in October, and I have my permit right now. So I am driving on the road, so watch out. (Laughs).

I can't wait.

MODERATOR: If I had a 15-year-old daughter I would want to have a 30-year-old car that was big bomb, full of metal. What kind of car are you going to get?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I love cars. I don't drive them but I love looking at them. A Hummer is nice; I can hit anything and I will be fine. It's like basically a tank.

Q. You have had so much success now. Have you had time to really set a plan down, real goals that you want to aim for in the next, say, five, six, ten years?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, definitely, you know, I started out with a plan that when I started playing golf, and I stuck with it and everyone knows this, but my goal is to play in The Masters and I am not going to change my goals. I think that's realistic for me. I have been working for that goal ever since when I started playing and I feel like every day I am getting closer.

Q. Have you ever played Augusta National?

MICHELLE WIE: No, I haven't.

Q. We know you are having a great year, is there anything about your game or as you enter this tournament that you consider a weakness or something that you are concentrating on a little more?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I am just working really hard on everything because, you know, once you work really hard on one thing and you have -- like, let's say I am hitting my shots really well and I am not putting very good and I only concentrate on putting and I don't hit balls or anything, then it will be the opposite. So I am just practicing everything. I am trying to be an all-around good player.

Q. Long-term, do you want to play both tours or do you want to play primarily the PGA TOUR?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I haven't really thought about that yet. Since I am a lady, I mean, it would be good to play in both tours and I think it will be great playing in both. I mean, it's very different, the two tours and I think it will be fun. I mean, I think it will be great. But right now I am just focusing on this week and hopefully down the road I will get a chance to play on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Nancy Lopez said that it was insulting you talked about beating the men before you have beaten Annika. Does that trouble you?

MICHELLE WIE: Not really. Because I am not at the stage where I can actually -- I mean, I realize that I am not at the stage where I can win a PGA TOUR event, where I feel like I am better than any of those guys out there. I am out there to learn from them. And it's great, I mean, if like playing in all the different kinds of tours, PGA, LPGA, playing in amateur events, they are all so unique in their own way and I feel like I am learning -- I am being a better player learning from all those different, you know, different kind of players. When I am out on the PGA TOUR, I am learning from them and I mean, they are very experienced and I have a lot to learn from them. Even on the LPGA, I still have a lot to learn and I am learning a lot from Annika, a lot of the players out here and it's really good for me.

Q. You mentioned early on about tweaking your game a little bit, what did you mean by that?

MICHELLE WIE: That means less drivers, more woods, basically.

Q. You won't hit drivers much this week?

MICHELLE WIE: Since my main focus is keeping it in the fairways stuff like that, I will hit drivers occasionally but not as much as I want to.

Q. It would seem that it's maybe easier to get into The Masters as an amateur, through different amateur routes than as a professional, would that tempt you to stay amateur longer?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, not really because it's -- even though I have greater chance, it's still very hard to get into The Masters with an amateur because you have to win the APL, The Amateur, stuff like that. But I think when I turn pro I will be ready because that's when I will turn pro, if I think I am ready. Getting into The Masters I don't care which way I get in by. That's my ultimate goal and ultimately I'd like to play on the PGA TOUR, so getting to The Masters by playing the PGA TOUR will probably kill two birds with one stone.

Q. Have you experienced resistance in your quest to play in a PGA TOUR from both tours? It's well documented the men were a little bit upset with Annika getting on last year, but have you received support or resistance from the LPGA?

MICHELLE WIE: I mean, I realize that not everyone is going to support what I do, and I am fine with that. I am okay with that. There's been a lot of support. I have been really glad of that and there's been a lot of resistance, too. But like I said, before, the one characteristic that I have is I don't really care what anyone says.

I am just really happy right now with what I am doing and I know that I am not going to get 100% support, but I am really appreciating all the support that I get.

Q. Has this summer seemed hectic to you? I am from Atlanta, we have a question about the U.S. Amateur as to any way you can make that tournament given your schedule?

MICHELLE WIE: I think it's a very good summer. So far playing a lot of tournaments. Like I said, before, last year I played one tournament, had a week off, played another tournament, had a week off, so it was very choppy, but I feel like I planned this summer a little better, it's a lot more tournaments in a row. It's very fun going from one place to another. I love travelling.

For the U.S. Amateur, I'd love to play there, but I am not really sure if I can get a ticket in because I mean, if I finish on Sunday night and I get and if I get a plane if I arrive on the afternoon, so it's very tight for me.

MODERATOR: Depends on your tee time?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes.

MODERATOR: Why don't you discuss that.

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I mean, if I have a very, very late tee time I mean, it might be okay, but I don't know if I will be able, you know, be able to get over the jet lag and all that. It's very tough right now.

Q. The second-place check at the LPGA Championship is a pretty nice-size check, did you dwell on the money you weren't getting?

MICHELLE WIE: Not really. It's pretty a laughing matter with me and my family right now. That end, the money doesn't really seem real to me right now. It's too big of a number for me, and I am very happy staying an amateur right now and, you know, like I said, when I feel like I am ready I will.

MODERATOR: Are you taking money management courses?

MICHELLE WIE: That's what I am definitely going to do -- get a degree on in college.

Q. Can you express what it is about The Masters? You make it sound like your ultimate goal. Can you express why that's so important to you to play in that particular tournament.

MICHELLE WIE: Well, as weird as it sounds, it was the first tournament that I saw on TV. That's it. (Laughs). When I saw it, it just felt really special and it was such a really nice golf course. And then the more I learn about it, the more I want to play in it, the history, the golf course, since it's hard to get into it makes me want to get it into it more. It's just great.

Q. Did you play in those earrings today?

MICHELLE WIE: I am going to.

Q. Are they not off-putting?

MICHELLE WIE: They are okay to play in. I played in them before.

Q. Is the men's British Open on your radar given that there's a spot from it from the John Deere Classic?

MICHELLE WIE: It's so funny, like, there's been a lot of papers saying, "What if she gets into the British Open, should she play?" Then I have been walking down the streets and they are saying, "Congratulations on the British Open."

My goal in the John Deere is to learn a lot from the players and to make the cut this time. But if I qualify for the British Open, I mean, that's great. I mean, I'd love to play there.

Q. You said you had three practice rounds, you have been here since Friday. Did you get a day off, if so, have you done anything here in the Denver area? Do you get to be a kid here at all?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, Saturday they closed down the golf course, I practiced a little and I saw a movie. So it was fun.

Q. What did you see?

MICHELLE WIE: "Mr. And Mrs. Smith".

Q. We have talked about a number of things about your aspirations, your goals and what have you, and we have not covered the one big subject that's most important: You played three rounds of golf on a golf course that produced the only U.S. Open Championship for Arnold Palmer; it's a tough golf course. We would like to have your opinions about the tough holes and the letups, how you evaluate this golf course?

MICHELLE WIE: (Laughing) Well, this golf course is very nice. I am very, very surprised. When I played here on Friday, I was very surprised that the golf course was in great condition on Friday. There's definitely some tough holes, some easy holes. And when you can make birdie, then make birdie. I can't really pinpoint any tough holes right now because I don't really know the holes, but (fix that just basically feels like the first couple of holes are, you know, birdie holes (check that with sound (.

Q. Wondering whether if you were to win one of these LPGA events, say this year, would that change things in terms of short-term, long-term? You'd have exempt status you'd just have to petition for the under-18 thing, but you'd be a member out here.

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I mean, petitioning is not really on my mind right now. I don't really feel like I am going to petition. I don't really want to petition.

But I mean winning a golf tournament could change my mind one way or the other. But right now, as of today, I feel like I am really having a lot of fun as an amateur. Whatever happens down the road, I mean it's going to happen one day. I don't know when.

Q. Do you get any sense at all from the people watching you this week that they see you as a 15-year-old amateur that they have read about, or someone who can legitimately stop Annika from going after the Grand Slam?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I can't really read minds, so I don't know what they are thinking. But I hope they see me as a competitor and stuff like that. And I just I really think the fans are really supporting me and stuff like that, because it's great having a lot of supporters.

Q. Did you get different reception here than the one that you got at the LPGA and how so? Did you get a sense of being a bit more welcomed here?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I mean, I don't really notice anything. I was pretty focused on playing good golf and it was great because you meet a lot of old friends here, you know, it's great coming back to USGA tournament because you know a lot of people, and it's always great to come back..

Q. You obviously came close at the LPGA event a couple of weeks ago, and you have had sometime to kind of reflect on what you didn't or did do well at that event. Talk about your reflection of that and what you need to do differently at this event from two weeks ago.

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I hadn't really had a lot time to think about the LPGA right after I played the Public Links qualifier. That has been almost erased from my mind. I actually had to think about what I had to improve on: It's basically scoring, you know, make putts when you have to, don't waste shots, and play smarter. It's basically those three.

Q. Two-part question: Your three practice rounds, how have you played here? Second part, what do you make of your chances this week?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, the first time I played here I just wanted to know which hole was which and where to go and stuff like that, just getting a feel. It was weirdly -- it was blowing really hard on Friday, it was a little bit different.

Then Saturday and Monday, you know, trying to focus in more, more details and stuff like that, and I feel like I have a big chance this week. I have been working really hard on my game, and it's a US Open, so you don't know what is going to happen.

Q. You are obviously not eligible for the Solheim Cup but Colleen Walker would kill you to have you on the Junior Solheim Cup team, is that something you'd given consideration to?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I mean after playing the Curtis Cup, it was great to play as a team. I really realized that I really suck as an alternate, but it would be great if I played. But I have a very -- I have straight tournaments so I don't know how that's going to fit in.

Q. How are you handling being a role model to so many kids, what is your advice to them?

MICHELLE WIE: I don't know. It's kind of weird saying that I am a role model, but it's very cool if I am. And you know, if I had one piece of advice, I mean it would just be you know, just do what you want to do and even if it's against the current, then just go for it.

Q. You are growing up in an era where fitness is a much greater part of golf than it used to be. Do you lift weights? Do you engage in any fitness activity?

MICHELLE WIE: I was very proud of myself this morning, I actually ran one-and-a-half miles. That's a great hurdle for me, so I actually do run these days. And I actually do work out, because I realized that I have to get stronger, so I have been working on trying to get 10 yards. That has been going pretty well.

I have been doing a lot of endurance workouts, so I don't get tired and all the good workouts that they do.

Q. 10 yards off the tee?

MICHELLE WIE: All my shots.

Q. You said many times that you don't listen to anybody but obviously there's some people you do listen to, who is that?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, I have to listen to my parents or, you know, I don't get my allowance (laughter). I do listen to my coach because I do want to play better, and there are people that I really look up to that I really see as a role model for me and I listen to them.

MODERATOR: Your pairing this week is real interesting, two of the longest hitters, what do you think.

MICHELLE WIE: It's a very interesting pairing. Going to have a lot of fun out there. It's going to be great having all of us being long hitters and stuff like that. I am going to have a lot of fun.

MODERATOR: Have you ever been paired with Laura Davies before?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes.

MODERATOR: Was it fun?

MICHELLE WIE: Yes, it was very fun.

MODERATOR: Who hit the ball furthest?

MICHELLE WIE: When she cranks one, she hits it pretty far. It's not going to be a driving game out there on Thursday. You know, just going to play my game.

Q. If you weren't touring the country and the world playing golf, if you were back home, what would you be doing? What are your friends doing?

MICHELLE WIE: If I wasn't playing golf I'd probably be touring the world. I love travelling. Even if I wasn't playing golf, I'd probably be somewhere in Africa or something. All my friends are pretty much at the beach right now, laying down having a tan stuff like that. I like the beach but I haven't been there in a long time.

But after I come back to Hawaii I have a week off, so I am going to go to the beach with my friends, catch up with them, and it's going to be fun if.

Q. Jimmy is on your bag right now. Could you talk about how he helps you and what the plans are with him?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, having him on the bag it's certainly better than someone, just kidding. (Laughs).

Q. I wasn't going there.

MICHELLE WIE: Just kidding. There goes my allowance. Oh well. (Laughs).

But it's great having him on the bag. He's a really nice guy. He's very unemotional on the golf course. He helps me in that aspect and he's a great guy, so I am having a lot of fun out there with him.

Q. Does he at times rein you in, like kind of control you a little more than you want to be controlled?

MICHELLE WIE: Well, you know, I think I am a little bit past the stage of being controlled. I don't want to be a puppet or anything, but it's great. We're a really good team.

MODERATOR: Michelle, thanks so much. We wish you lots of luck this week.

End of FastScripts.


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