Michelle Wie West Says She’s “Retiring” From LPGA Tour


Michelle Wie West Says She's "Retiring" From LPGA Tour

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Michelle Wie West, who broke into the golfing world as a youth sensation but whose professional career has been slowed by injuries, announced Thursday that she is “retiring” from playing full-time on the LPGA Tour.

“I’m so grateful for the last 14 years that I’ve spent touring, traveling the world and competing against the best in the world,” the 32-year-old Hawaiian native wrote on social media. “I look forward to spending more time now on projects I’ve always wanted to do but never had time for, and continually working to make golf a more diverse and inclusive space.”

In an interview published by Golfweek on Thursday, Wie West said she plans to compete in the US Women’s Open next week before taking an indefinite break from the sport. She added that she also intends to play at the 2023 US Women’s Open, scheduled to be held at Pebble Beach, and is not officially retiring.

“I’m definitely not ruling anything out,” she said.

A win at the 2014 US Women’s Open remains Wie West’s only major triumph, one of five she has won on the LPGA Tour. She has rarely played since 2019, when she married Jonnie West, director of pro scouting for the Golden State Warriors and son of Hall of Famer Jerry West. Wie West took the 2020 season completely off to have a daughter, Makenna, and she has only competed in one LPGA event since July 2021.

“Sometimes when I play a lot of golf,” she told Golfweek, “I’m just in bed. Or I can’t lift [Makenna] get up and that scared me.”

Wie West turned pro in 2005 after a legendary amateur career in which she made headlines by competing against male golfers. Long off the tee, at age 14 she was just one shot away from making the cut at a 2004 PGA Tour event, the Sony Open in Hawaii. Like West, who would make seven more PGA Tour starts through 2008, she also became the youngest person to qualify for an LPGA Tour event, when she did so at the 2002 LPGA Takefuji Classic at age 12. At 13, her win at the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship made her the youngest USGA champion in an adult tournament.

Wie West’s final stretch as an amateur included top-3 finishes at two major LPGA events in 2005. By the time she turned pro in October of that year, Wie West was already one of the biggest stars in women’s golf, drawing comparisons to Tiger Woods and shining it also to be on the way to similar heights. While playing part-time on the LPGA Tour in 2006, she had six consecutive top five finishes, including three majors.

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However, Wie West began to struggle after that hot stretch and she was sidelined for much of 2007 after breaking her left wrist in a fall. A series of physical issues plagued her in the years that followed, and in 2018 she revealed that she was battling arthritis in both her wrists.

After hitting an 84 in the first round of the 2019 PGA Women’s PGA Championship, Wie West got emotional as she told reporters, “It’s tough. It’s just one of those situations where I’m not quite sure how much I’ve got left.”

As West said, she looks forward to pursuing other interests, such as advocating for women’s equality.

“It seems like it’s been a few years since I’ve been slowly doing things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to do,” she told Golfweek. “It was a lot of fun learning and growing into areas I’ve always wanted to grow into.”

As for a career that became more of a roller coaster than its early success promised – possibly, some have argued, because it sought to compete against men rather than focus on women’s events – Wie West said, “I have no regrets because I feel like I always learned from every mistake I made. I feel like even if it was a huge failure, at least it makes a good story now.”

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