- Eric Adelson, ESPN The Magazine
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Questions have always outnumbered answers in the Michelle Wie saga. What happened to her skills? How bad are her wrists? Is her dad too controlling? Does she still want to play against men? To the frustration of many, Wie grew reticent as her golf game spiraled. But lately the 19-year-old has shown flashes of the player once ranked second in the world: She earned her LPGA Tour card this past December and finished second in this season's first tourney. Now, in an exclusive for The Magazine, Wie gives fans and critics alike some resounding answers.—Eric Adelson
I won't lie. Everything hurt. I was taking four or five Motrin a day. Then I had to take stomach pills because of the painkillers. I even got food allergies, probably due to the stress. All I wanted to do was sleep.
I don't want people to feel sorry for me. But now I can admit how much pain I was in. It started about a year after I turned pro. I hit a cart path on my downswing in the 2006 Samsung World Championship. Nobody knew publicly, but my whole right side was hurting as a result, and I had to compensate for the pain with my shoulder, elbow and neck. It affected my whole swing. Then I fell while running in early 2007. At first I thought I had just hurt my tailbone, but then I saw my left wrist was twisted in a weird way. All I thought was, This is not good.
I didn't want my parents to worry. Because when they worry, I worry. So I hid my wrist in my sleeve for a few days. My parents were shocked when I told them. Turned out I'd broken three bones and needed a cast. I wanted to put my whole body in a cast.
I was in a pretend world. I didn't want to face reality. I wanted to act like everything was okay. But the more I played, the more it hurt. The worse I played, the more I tried to practice. I would cry, then get frustrated at myself for crying—and cry some more. Then I hurt my wrist again, last March, hitting a range ball out of deep rough. That's when the doctor told me to stay off the course for a few weeks. I wondered if I would be in pain for the rest of my life.
I knew what people were saying: "She's mentally gone." But it wasn't my mind that was going; I wasn't choking. I was telling myself I wasn't hurting. Now I realize the importance of health. Because of the pain, there were little things I did to protect my swing. I'm still ironing those out. The doctors say I'll have some lingering tenderness from damaged tendons and ligaments, but I'm not scared all the time of something hurting.
Some people want me to play like I did at 14. But I've realized I'll never be who I was five years ago. My parents have realized that too. Everyone in my family was really stressed out for a while. I think we all needed to take a chill pill.
The past couple of years have been painful for my parents, watching me go through this and seeing me go off to college. But they have a new perspective about golf. I do too.
Stanford has helped. I don't even think about golf when I'm at school. I live with athletes, and they call me a civilian. I like that. I love being normal here.
I still want to play against men. There's always been disapproval, but I've always done what I want to do. It won't be right away. I have to see how much stronger I can get. For now I want to try to be the No. 1 woman in the world. That's why getting my Tour card at Q-School is such a big triumph for me.
I took my medicine. I need to be content with how I'm playing. I need to be proud. I'm so excited to feel excited again. I want to thank the people who stayed with me. I think it's going to be a great time ahead.
I'm finally happy.
A few answers from one of golf's biggest questions.