Youth isn’t always a sign of inexperience – just ask former teen golf phenomenon Michelle Wie. At just 25 years old, Wie has amassed a long list of records in the sport and both amateur and professional wins since bursting onto the golf scene at the ripe age of 13. While her career has had what some describe as a rollercoaster trajectory, Wie continues to prove that her talent runs deep and that her place among the most influential women in sports is well deserved.



Michelle Wie

Britain Women's Golf Open

A simple look at Wie’s professional timeline is enough to confirm her reputation as a child prodigy. By the age of four, Wie was golfing under the instruction of her father. By the age of 10, she had become the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. At 12 years old, Wie was powering golf balls over 300 yards. Just a year later, Wie qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship; she was only 13 years old. The same year, Wie became the youngest player to qualify for the US Women’s Open and also came out on top at the Women’s Amateur Public Links Tournament, making her the youngest player to ever win an adult USGA event. Given her track record at surpassing expectations, it came as no surprise that Wie was able to turn pro and sign contracts with both Nike and Sony, reportedly valued at $10 million, just before her 16th birthday.

Naturally, this achievement came with a lot of hype and media attention. Ultimately, it was this publicity that became her biggest downfall. After all, living up to the hype at any age, but especially a young one, is a challenge. A good start to a professional career (four top 5 finishes in major LPGA Tour stops, including at the Evian Masters, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and the LPGA Championship) gave way to an almost eight-year slump, which most memorably included eight injury-plagued LPGA events, two withdrawals, a four-month hiatus and an overall low scoring average of 76.7 in 2007. That year Wie enrolled part-time at Stanford University and continued to focus on her golf game while attending classes during the winter and spring semesters. Despite her less-than-stellar performances, Wie continued to rake in almost $19 million that year alone, placing her #4 on Forbes’ list of Top 20 Earners Under 25.

After officially joining the LPGA full-time in 2009, Wie bounced back with one LPGA victory that year and the following year, only to hit another slump that would last through 2013. But, never being one to give up in the face of challenges or a tough career slump, Wie continued to work on her game and play in the professional circuit. So far in 2014, her record shines with 10 top 10 placements in LPGA tournaments and 2 victories at the U.S. Women’s Open and the LPGA LOTTE Championship. With no signs of slowing down, Wie is sure to continue living up to her hype and might even add a few more top-tier brands to her current list of sponsors, which include the likes of Nike, Kia Motors, McDonald’s and Omega Watches.