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Michelle Wie set for LPGA return

Michelle Wie, nursing a sprained left wrist the past two months, will play her first tournament since February starting Thursday here at the 2.2 million-dollar LPGA Michelob Ultra Open.

The 18-year-old Korean-American prodigy who made her fame trying in vain to make the cut against elite US PGA men's fields has been frustrated following a poor 2007 campaign and an injury setback.

"Obviously it has been hard to deal with," Wie said Tuesday. "I've never really been injured before. I've learned a lot from it.

"I took the proper way to get back. Putted, chipped, didn't hit a golf ball. I learned when to push myself. I respect my body. I'm really excited to move forward."

After a month of practice with coach David Leadbetter, comes into the event at Kingsmill with modest expectations, hopeful of rebuilding the form of younger days that had her contending for major titles and competitive with men.

"I expect myself to keep my head in it, not expect too much out of myself, just go out there and enjoy it, commit myself 100 percent to every shot.

"It's one of my first tournaments back. Who knows what's going to happen? Maybe I will play great. Maybe I will make a couple mistakes here and there. I tried my hardest in practicing. Now it's all about performance."

Weeks of work with Leadbetter have paid off with renewed confidence.

"Working on my swing, seeing good golf shots over and over again, I feel like that has helped my confidence a lot," Wie said. "I feel like it's coming along. I've put in a lot of work. I've done the best I could.

"I've never practiced that much in my life. I feel like my hands are getting ugly as the day goes on but there's nothing more I can do. I'm hitting the ball a lot more solidly. We will see what happens."

There is no desire on Wie to turn back the clock and try to recapture the ball-blasting form of four or five years ago.

"I don't think anyone can return to the same swing when you were 13 or 14. No one can and I don't think I should," Wie said. "Everything should move forward. I don't think I should look back.

"I've changed a lot physically. I can't do the same things my body did when I was 13. Me and David are still working on the same things I worked when I was 13 or 14. We're trying to keep it in the same track, definitely the same swing thought."

Wie still plans to join the LPGA Tour in 2009 and expects a nice reception.

"I like the players out here. They have been really nice to me," Wie said. "I'm really excited."

There are no regrets for Wie about her child phenomenon status and the huge income and attention it brought. Wie's income was estimated at 19 million dollars last year, mostly from sponsorship money.

"I don't regret any choices that I made when I was younger," Wie said. "You only have one try at life. Whether it's a good decision or bad decision, what are you going to do? I just learned to accept things in life.

"Things happen. I just have to move forward."

May 7, 2008

 




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