You’d think the most glamorous and sought after lady in world golf would only be worried about filling up her coffers and her trophy cabinet. Not so for Michelle Wie. The 23-year-old, known as the Tiger Woods of women’s golf for her sheer star power and endorsement value, considers 2012 her best year despite just a single top-10 finish and in an exclusive interview to XPRESS also reveals why it worries her when she is unable to perform even as her brand value soars.
“My single biggest goal this year was to complete my graduation from Stanford University, so doing it was the best thing that could have happened this year,” the Korean-American pin-up said in an exclusive interview.
“This university means so much to me given my grandfather used to teach there and my uncles and cousins studied there before me. As a kid I used to go to the campus frequently, so graduating from such a prestigious university is definitely the biggest achievement of my career so far.”
The Omega brand ambassador became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur championship at 10 and also became the youngest winner of the US Women’s Amateur Public Links and the youngest to qualify for an LPGA Tour event. She turned professional shortly before her 16th birthday in 2005, accompanied by an enormous amount of publicity and endorsements that included sponsorship contracts with Nike and Sony reportedly worth more than $10 million per year.
“It really bothers me when I don’t perform to my expectations. I mean I am the face of so many products so my performance should be up there. I am not so bothered about critics, but I would like to live up to my fans’ expectations,” she said.
Wie’s last tournament victory came way back in 2010 when she won the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Open, her second win on the LPGA Tour after the Lorena Ochoa Invitational the previous year and she admits golf-wise this has been her worst year.
“I had a very bad year. Can blame it on so many things, but I am not going to dwell on them. Actually I got off to a bad start, had a couple of swing changes midway and my confidence took a nosedive. Later part of the year I started getting it back. I am going to work as hard as I can for next year as if I am starting from Ground Zero. But I really needed this wake-up call,” she said.
Incidentally, Wie almost missed the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters due to a bout of food poisoning but refused to blame it for her below-par performance here. “True, I was seeing three of everything on the first day, but that was not the reason for my performance. Actually I wasn’t prepared for this event,” she said.
So, what is she aiming for, come 2013?
“With studies out of the way, I will finally get free time after end of season to rest and practice. I hope to get my focus back. My targets of course remain the same, winning a Major and getting to No. 1,” she said.
Wie is sponsored by and promotes Nike, Omega Watches, Kia Motors, McDonalds, Sime Darby, and Zengyro Energy Bands.