The end of Michelle Wie West’s LPGA career is here, 20 years after her first US Women’s Open start at Pumpkin Ridge. The opportunity to tee it up at Pebble Beach has kept Wie West grounded as she contemplates what like will look like beyond playing professional golf.
But come Sunday, Wie West, 33, will enter a new phase.
“When I made the announcement last year, even still it was like, ‘I’m transitioning out, but I have Pebble,’” she said overnight. “Now I don’t have anything in the foreseeable future, so it’s definitely an emotional week for me.”
During the past year, Wie West has spent plenty of time reflecting on her career with pride and acceptance. The 2014 US Women’s Open champion acknowledged that she’d made mistakes over the years but that her story would only be what it was with those choices.
The five-time winner’s legacy, in her eyes, lies in the bold decisions she’s made, consistently advocating for her peers and the tour. That advocacy continued through her press conference, explaining the importance of venues like Pebble Beach to increase eyeballs on the women’s game.
“I hope that I inspire a lot of other girls to make bold and fearless decisions and choices in their careers as well,” Wie West said.
Her life at home is the opposite of bold. She walked through the routine of eating three meals a day, winding down with Netflix, and spending time with her family. She’s replaced chasing birdies with making pickles, describing homelife as refreshing and mundane. It’s a notable adjustment from the up-and-down, adrenaline-filled life of professional golf, with playing pickleball with her husband Jonnie West serving as an occasional competitive outlet. However, Wie West won’t miss the monotony of putting drills to remain competitive.
“I’m going to put my clubs in the darkest corner of my garage, let it sit there for a little bit,” Wie West joked.
But putting her clubs away won’t signal the end of her involvement with the tour. Wie West consistently communicates with LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, serving as a sounding board when needed. She runs the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club, setting a higher standard for off-course amenities for the players and bringing a new format into the mix with 24 junior players participating. She’s continuing to be a role model for several business endeavours and releasing a clothing line with Nike to commemorate the end of her career.
“I continue to want to help the tour grow female sports in general and do everything in my power to keep empowering the women, closing the pay gap, whether it’s in sports and out of sports,” Wie West said.
The flames of competing, however, haven’t been completely doused. Wie West still eyes one last Sunday finish in contention to send her playing career out to sea.
“I hope it’s in the final group with everyone watching,” she said. “That would just be so incredible. I’ve definitely dreamt of it, thought about it, and I can’t believe it’s only a few days away.”