DALY CITY -- Michelle Wie sounds as if she's ready for the next chapter in her compelling story.

A one-time teen sensation who burst onto the national stage at age 10, Wie will tee it off Thursday in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club riding a wave of positive emotions.

She's fresh off her first LPGA Tour victory in four years, in her home state of Hawaii.

Now, Wie, 24, finds herself at her "second home," the Bay Area, along with her Stanford pals and fellow members of "Nerd Nation." She graduated from Stanford in 2012, majoring in mass communication.

"I think the best five years of my life were spent here in the Bay Area," Wie said. "I met so many great people here. I just absolutely fell in love with the area, just the culture of San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose. It's amazing."

She visited The Farm on Monday after catching a red-eye flight from Hawaii and taking a quick nap. She hung out at the golf and football facilities, even chatting with Cardinal football coaches about recruits.

"It was amazing. I was overwhelmed with emotion," she of the trip. "Wanted to hug every single freshman I saw because I wanted to be them."

The $1.8 million, 72-hole Swinging Skirts tour event, partnered with a Taiwan-based Swinging Skirts Golf Team, is filling a void left when the LPGA stop at Blackhawk Country Club ended in 2010 after a five-year run.

The new event boasts a stout field that includes 18 of the world's top 19 ranked players, among them Pleasanton native Paula Creamer, world No. 1 Inbee Park, Hall of Famer Juli Inkster of Los Altos and Wie, who leads the 2014 money list with $616,555 in earnings.


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Perhaps Wie's golf game is finally catching up with her fame. She has a new tabletop putting style and seemingly a firm grip on her career.

Wie leads the tour in scoring average (69.57) and greens in regulation (81 percent). She placed second in the Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 6 and last week won the LPGA Lotte Championship by rallying from four shots back to beat Angela Stanford with a final-round 67.

"She has every shot in the bag," world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen said of Wie. "She's very talented. She seems very comfortable with her putting these days, which has kind of been her hurdle for years. Great to see her succeed."

Even still, Pettersen, thinks Wie should have won more by now.

"If you ask me, Michelle has underachieved," Pettersen said. "She's way better than what she's performed up to this date, since she joined the tour."

Wie's story has taken many twists and turns.

Injuries and putting issues have helped account for just three career tour titles, hardly the kind of production one expected from a prodigy who competed against men at least five times before her 16th birthday. At 14, she missed the cut by one shot at the 2004 Sony Open.

During her struggles, which included a 79-tournament LPGA winless streak, Wie was often treated as if she were a cautionary tale of a phenom who got too much, too soon. Some even questioned her decision to go to college during her career, but Wie cherished her time at Stanford.

"I'm so proud that I'm a Stanford grad," she said. "I really believe that we are a bunch of nerds, but at the same time I think we're kind of cool. No, I don't think so. Yeah, they are cool. I don't know if I am."

Pettersen applauded Wie's decision to go to Stanford.

"Michelle is a smart girl," Pettersen said. "Not that many girls out here that have completed four solid years at Stanford while playing golf on the LPGA. That takes a huge effort. For her to finally concentrate on golf full time has helped her golf."

Clearly, Wie believes the journey has led her to the right place.

"Everything that happens to someone makes them who they are," she said. "I don't try to be perfect. I make mistakes. I'm really grateful for all the ups and downs I've had. I really feel like that's what makes me who I am today."

  • In a marquee grouping, Wie's threesome will include budding star Lydia Ko, who'll turn 17 on Thursday and is ranked fourth in the world, and third-ranked Stacy Lewis.