SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – It wasn’t a coincidence that Michelle Wie West’s announcement to step away from the LPGA proceeded U.S. Women’s Open week.
“[The U.S. Women’s Open] means everything to me,” Wie West told the media on Tuesday. “It was the one tournament I wanted to win ever since I started playing golf. If I hadn't won the 2014 U.S. Open, I definitely wouldn't retire, and I would still be out here playing and chasing that win.”
Only 32, Wie West has competed on the LPGA for 13 years. During that time, she earned five wins, including her lone major at Pinehurst No. 2. She will cap off her professional career with two U.S. Women’s Open starts, this week at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club and next year at Pebble Beach.
“I have zero regrets in my career,” reflected Wie West. “I have definitely had an up-and-down career, but I'm extremely proud for the resiliency that I've shown.” Wie West elaborated that she accomplished her two biggest dreams: graduating from Stanford and winning a U.S. Open. “To check both of those off the list means everything to me,” she said. “I'm very proud of myself. I've always wished I would have done more, but I feel like everyone kind of feels that way, so I'm definitely giving myself some grace and enjoying this last week.
Wie West, who gave birth to daughter Makenna in June 2020, hasn’t been able to prepare the way in which she’d like for such a big event. She’s keeping her expectations realistic this week.
“I definitely haven't had the practice schedule that I usually do leading up to a U.S. Open,” she said. “This week, I'm just soaking it all in. Just seeing all the fans, seeing all the players, walking the walk. It's pretty cool. Obviously, the competitive side of me wants to win and do the best I can.”
Wie West may be retiring from the LPGA, but she will continue to remain involved in women’s golf. Specifically, Wie West will lead a new women’s initiative with equipment company LA Golf, with the goal for equitable support on and off the course for LPGA players.
“[With LA Golf] we want to kind of change the sponsorship landscape, and like I said, just show that female athletes deserve better. We're coming out with a full healthcare benefits plan, paid maternity leave, paid mental health days, and travel, just making everything more seamless,” she said. “I just know as a female athlete, travel is not as glamorous as what people think. We just want to create a more seamless experience for female athletes and just kind of show them what they're really worth.”
Wie West admits she will miss the stimulation she gets from competitive golf. “That's the hardest part about moving away, it's because there is nothing else that will recreate that feeling,” she said. “But also I've done it for a very long time, and I'm just looking forward to spending more time with my family. I'll miss the players and the camaraderie out here. But I've kept in touch. I think still being so involved in the industry and the tour, it's really helped me to really keep in touch with a lot of people. I'm very excited for what happens next.”