Michelle Wie leaves door ajar for return to PGA Tour

Scott Halleran

The former phenom doesn't totally rule out making an appearance on the men's circuit again some day.

Michelle Wie, in her first visit to Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" show, said Thursday she was inclined not to tee it up again on the PGA Tour but refused to rule out a repeat of her dramatic 2004 appearance at the Sony Open.

"I never say never, but I think if there was an invitation that came into my mail right now I would probably decline, but you never know in the future," Wie, who played with the guys when she was 14, told new Golf Central anchor Lisa Cornwell. "I don’t like to say never, no, so we’ll see. Maybe."

The pre-teen from Hawaii with a gorgeous swing and huge distance off the tee exploded on the golf scene with off-the-chart expectations as a budding superstar with multiple majors in her future. The scenario has not played out as scripted for the two-time LPGA Tour winner, her growth as a player hindered in part, perhaps, because of what many saw as an unwise diversion to the men’s tour that began at the event taking place this week at Waialae Country Club.

Others may recall Wie’s acceptance of the invitation to go up against the big boys on home turf, followed by additional sponsor exemptions that resulted in embarrassing on-course performances and worse PR, as unfortunate attention-getting stunts by the golfer’s handlers.

The 24-year-old, herself, however, recalled the Sony experience, where she failed to make the cut by just one shot, quite differently.

"Just being in awe" of playing with idols like Ernie Els, she said to program host Gary Williams. "People giving me the nickname, ‘the Big Wiesy,’ after [Els’ "Big Easy’ moniker], it was amazing."

Claiming she had no idea her presence would create the spectacle it turned out to be, Wie laughed about needing custom-made long pants because the PGA Tour requires players to wear trousers and she had always worn shorts.

"It was a really special event for me," said Wie, who was on air to reflect on her 10th anniversary at the Sony and boost the LPGA’s new season-long "Race to the CME Globe" points-based competition that offers a $1 million payoff to the overall winner.

"I think it makes every tournament more important, even the smaller-field events," Wie said. "I feel like a lot of people are going to play a lot more events. I know I will."

The six-foot, one-inch navigator of the so-called "tabletop" putting method also shed light on how she came up with the unconventional stroke at the 2011 season-ending CME Group Titleholders after watching a golfer of lesser height on the greens.

"I was not putting well at all and I felt so uncomfortable," she said. "I was playing with someone short and [thought], ‘I wish I was that height, it would make putting so much easier.’"

As Wie got closer to the ball, her stats improved dramatically (from 53rd in putting average in 2012 to 25th in 2013) and people certainly took notice.

"I see nothing good about it," 26-time LPGA winner Judy Rankin said in March.

"When I looked in a mirror … I see why people think it looks weird," Wie said Thursday about the stance that was still in an experimental stage at the end of 2011. "I didn’t even know if it was going to last or not … I tried to stand up and putt and it didn’t feel comfortable at all … It feels comfortable to me now and it's kind of how I putt.

"People ask me if I still do it," Wie added, "and I immediately say, ‘Yes.’"

For those who worry about whether the position is physically painful, Wie put such concerns to rest as well.

"My back actually hurt more before than it does now," she said. "When I am putting like this, it is all legs. I don’t really use my back at all because I don’t really curve my back, it is pretty straight."

More from SB Nation Golf:

Jimmy Walker catches fire to win Sony Open

John Daly's Sony Open pants game has been superior #Lookit

Michelle Wie leaves door open to compete with men

Zach Johnson emerging as golf's closer | Wins at Kapalua

Counting down the top 25 stories and moments that defined golf in 2013

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