She ultimately played in eight events on the PGA Tour, and made the cut in a men’s tournament on the Asian Tour. Wie has not crossed over since 2008, the year before she became a full-fledged member of the L.P.G.A. tour and won her first tournament. By most estimations, that victory was long overdue, and Wie’s career had been undermined by overreach.
After her recent win in Singapore, Wie conveyed a message to her management team: “The first thing I said to my agents and everyone was just, ‘Let’s just simmer down on the expectations and the hype and everything.’”
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Wie still competes occasionally with men, but only informally and when she is home in Jupiter, Fla. She practices alongside the likes of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, whose fearlessness in attacking the course has helped her reconnect with her younger, undaunted self.
“I think a lot on the golf course, I worry about the outcome,” Wie said. “The guys, they care, obviously, but they are a lot more aggressive. I’ve talked to a couple of them, and they said, ‘If it goes in the hazard, it goes in the hazard.’”
They approach golf “more like a game,” she said.
With her booming drives and towering goals, the teenage Wie attracted a huge following — and a sizable endorsement portfolio after she turned professional, just days before her 16th birthday. She was projected as the Tiger Woods of women’s golf, the transcendent talent who would transform the game, and she struggled under the weight of those expectations.
The joy with which she approached the sport dissipated over time, giving way to a world-weary drudgery. “I’ve always been an over-thinker,” Wie said, adding that as a youngster she “just masked it well.”
The road to adulthood can be rough for any adolescent, but especially one negotiating the path with the world watching, and critiquing every step.
“We accumulate fear, we accumulate overthinking,” Wie said. “Sometimes you have to knock it back down and just kind of be free and have fun.”
As a child, Wie idolized Woods, who is now her neighbor in Jupiter. And like him, she has come to inhabit a body troubled by overuse injuries, exacerbated by forceful golf swings. Since 2014, Wie has struggled with finger, hip, ankle, neck and wrist problems.
“Every time we see each other we list off all the things: How’s your ankle, how’s your back, how’s everything?” Wie said, referring to Woods. “It’s a 20-minute conversation, and then we can move on from there.”
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Wie withdrew from last year’s U.S. Women’s Open early in her second round because of neck pain. She played in three more tournaments in July and August before taking all of September off to allow her body time to heal. When she returned, it was with a new outlook, and a new look. Driven by boredom, Wie said with a laugh, she cut her long black hair and became a platinum blonde.
One of Wie’s cohorts, Brittany Lincicome, barely recognized her at a tournament this year — because her game had changed quite a bit, too.
“In the past, you would wait until the explosion happened or she would hit it out of play or do something really bad and make a really big number,” said Lincicome, who played in a group with Wie. “But this last time I played with her, every shot was down the middle. She was in play every time.”
Her accuracy off the tee wasn’t the only part of Wie’s game that impressed Lincicome, one of the tour’s longer drivers. “Her putting is fantastic,” she said.
“I told her when we played a couple weeks ago I wanted her as my Solheim partner, because she literally from 20, 15 feet, was making every single thing,” Lincicome added, referring to the biennial team event between players from Europe and the United States. “I was like, ‘I’ll drive it, you putt it, and we’ll win.”
Wie said her injuries, strangely, had helped make her a better putter. To stay healthy, she has scaled back her range sessions.
“I’m trying not to hit golf balls,” Wie said, adding, “I love to grind, so I focus all of my energy on the putting green.”
Wie is no longer chasing history. She’s in no rush to solidify her legacy.
“My main focus is staying healthy,” she said, “and we’ll just take it on from there.”