Michelle Wie may be the defending U.S. Women's Open champion this week at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania, but it won't be the same player looking to go back-to-back in the most prestigious event in women's golf.
After winning the U.S. Women's Open last year at Pinehurst No. 2, Wie's quality of play fell off precipitously. In the 24 events since, she's missed five cuts and been forced to withdraw from another three. Her best effort this season is a tie for 11th in her title defense at the LPGA Lotte Championship in April. She made the cut in both prior LPGA majors this year but was nowhere near a factor.
Unbeknownst to Wie, a hip injury, which has nagged her for years, had been made worse over time by the action she had worked on with instructor David Leadbetter. Her doctors had told her that, if she kept on the path she was going along, a total muscle tear in her hip was imminent. So, the 25-year-old had no choice. She had to revamp her swing.
The result: a longer, less violent action with less width in her stance. The hope is that combination will put less stress on her ailing hip.
At the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Wie missed the cut, but she believes the swing changes are starting to feel more comfortable.
"Just with everything in general, I'm feeling healthier and healthier. My hip felt better in Arkansas than it has been the pass couple of weeks," Wie said Tuesday ahead of the U.S. Women's Open. "And I think I'm taking it day-by-day and taking it slowly."
Despite the swing overhaul, the hip is still a concern this week and beyond. Wie is deal with bursitis in her left hip. She recently got a second platelet-rich plasma injection in the hip, according to USA Today. Expect to see the kinesiology tape that adorned Wie's leg en route to the major breakthrough last year.
She's hoping that some of the good feelings from last year can carry her this time around as well.
"The amazing feeling that I felt on 18 (last year) was incredible and I feel extremely honored to be in this position and to be introduced that way, as the defending champion," she said. "It's truly an honor."