RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Golf careers don’t follow a linear path, of course, but Michelle Wie’s has taken more twists and turns than most, projected star and enigma among them.
So it was not unusual to see her follow a similarly erratic route in the first round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club here. Wie played a four-hole stretch in five-over par followed by four straight birdies en route to a two-over par 74, six off the lead held by Ally McDonald.
What was unusual was that she completed the round without apparent pain in a wrist that has bothered her for the better part of a year.
“I’m very happy, considering how badly it went in Singapore [the HSBC Women’s World Championship] and how awful I felt there," she said. "I’m very happy to be feeling the way I did today. I feel good. I feel like I can play 18 more holes. That’s a really big win in my book.”
This was only the fifth round she has played all year, four of them coming in the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. A week later, she was 10 over par through 14 holes in the HSBC Women’s World Championship and withdrew because of the wrist.
Last week, she intended to play in the Kia Classic, but withdrew before even making the trip to San Diego.
“It was definitely a battle today,” she said. “I’m proud of myself for coming back. The front nine felt really rusty. Had no rounds of golf in me. The string of birdies helped my confidence a lot. I knew I needed to get the rust out.”
Wie, 29, also was wielding a new putter and putting stroke, a cross-handed version of what Matt Kuchar does, the putter grip running up his left arm. She only began using it about a week ago, she said.
“It’s a work in progress.”