Wie set to defend Canadian Women’s Open title

When she was pounding the ball off the tee as a 15-year-old, it

was thought that Michelle Wie would be well into a dominating golf

career by the time she was 21.

It still could happen, although it’s taken longer than

anticipated for the Honolulu native who opted to split her time

between golf and studies at Stanford University before she puts her

full focus on the LPGA Tour.

She has won two tournaments in her professional career, one of

which was the 2010 Canadian Women’s Open at the St. Charles club in

Winnipeg.

Wie will defend that title against the world’s best beginning

Thursday at Hillsdale Golf Club.

”I know I need to be better and to work harder at my game,”

Wie said after a practice round Tuesday at the tree-lined club

north of Montreal. ”I want to be at a higher level and that

obviously requires a lot of work.”

This season, she has made 11 of 13 cuts and is 20th on the money

list with $355,865. Her best showing was second place in Thailand

in February.

Wie’s decision to study communications at Stanford has been

questioned by some who feel the struggling LPGA Tour needs its

stars playing and winning regularly.

Retired great Annika Sorenstam said last month that Wie was

”distracted” by school and wondered if she was mentally strong

enough to be a winner.

”I’m not going to miss a lot of tournaments with school and

everything, but it has been a little difficult,” said Wie, who

expects to graduate in March. ”It obviously hasn’t made my life

any easier, but I will always say education is very important.

”I don’t regret that decision at all.”

When Wie emerged as a teenager, her distance off the tee led

many to believe she could be good enough to play on the men’s

tour.

She was given entry into a PGA event in 2006 in Honolulu, and

three more after that over the next two years, but never made a

cut. Wie got her LPGA Tour card in 2009, although she had entered

several tournaments before then.

Wie posted her first win at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in

Mexico in 2009, then won in Winnipeg last year.

”It definitely feels good coming here and seeing my picture

with the trophy,” she said. ”It brings back a lot of memories and

hopefully I can do it again.”