Golf: Serena drives Wie's Rio target

Michelle Wie during the Coates Golf Championship earlier this month, when she ended tied-25th. The US golfer wants an encore of 2014, when she won her first Major, the US Women's Open, and finished second in another, the ANA Inspiration.
Michelle Wie during the Coates Golf Championship earlier this month, when she ended tied-25th. The US golfer wants an encore of 2014, when she won her first Major, the US Women's Open, and finished second in another, the ANA Inspiration.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Injury-free after frustrating year, former teen prodigy aims to build up her ranking in S'pore

American golfer Michelle Wie might play an exceedingly tranquil sport but she finds inspiration in the brawny world of tennis.

In particular, she is motivated by her compatriot, the 21-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams.

"I really look up to her. I draw a lot of inspiration from her ups and downs, her struggles and how she overcame all of it," said Wie, who will be playing in the HSBC Women's Champions from March 3-6 at the Sentosa Golf Club.

Wie is aiming to make the US Olympic golf team this year and perhaps she will be spurred by the fact that her idol, Williams, is the reigning Olympic singles champion in her sport.

Golf will be played at the Rio Olympics in August for the first time since 1904 and she is clear about her priorities in the months ahead.

"My No. 1 thought right now is: I must (do) everything I can to make the Olympic team," said Wie, who turned pro in 2005 at the age of 15.

WILLIAMS IS HER IDOL

I really look up to her. I draw a lot of inspiration from her ups and downs, her struggles and how she overcame all of it.

MICHELLE WIE, on how tennis star Serena Williams motivates her.

"The goal is to work very hard, try to play well every week and move up the rankings... that's my only concern right now."

The top 60 men and women qualify for Rio, although each country is limited to four representatives of each gender. The Hawaiian native is ranked 33rd in the world, with eight US golfers ahead of her.

Wie will get a chance to chalk up valuable ranking points at the HSBC Women's Champions, where her best finish was ninth in 2014.

With the world's top 10 players confirming their attendance in Singapore, she faces a daunting challenge at the unforgiving Serapong Course, known for its undulating terrain and tight fairways.

But the 1.85m American is relishing the challenge after a woeful 2015 when she missed the cut four times - compared to just twice in 2014 - because of a spate of injuries to her finger and hip.

She said: "I'm really excited about 2016. The mindset I have every week is that I can win that week.

"2015 was a year of a lot of injuries, I just couldn't give it my 100 per cent. But I took a huge chunk of the off-season to just really get my body right... I want to try my hardest to see where that takes me."

Wie will be hoping for a repeat of 2014 when she won her first Major, the US Women's Open, and finished second in another, the ANA Inspiration.

Entering her 12th year as a pro, she said: "Winning the US Open, that was a dream come true. It's the moment I looked forward to my whole life.

"I'm extremely competitive, that's what drove me, I just wanted to be the best.

"I want to win more Majors and become the best golfer I can be."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'SERENA DRIVES WIE'S RIO TARGET'. Print Edition | Subscribe