SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Michelle Wie enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2014 when she captured her first major title and the American will spend the next 18 months chasing another dream — competing at a Summer Olympics.
A teen prodigy, Wie was thrust into the limelight a decade ago when she competed against the men on several PGA Tour events but missed the cut in all of them and struggled to make an impact on the ladies tour after turning professional in 2005.
The 25-year-old finally fulfilled her potential with a first LPGA Tour title in 2009 and steady improvement over the years culminated in a two-shot U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst last June.
Wie is targeting more major success this season but her main goal will be to tee off at the Rio Games in 2016, competing at an event she helped ensure became a reality as part of the team lobbying for golf’s inclusion as an Olympic sport six years ago.
“Oh, yeah, I was actually in Copenhagen with the golf committee... people associated with the golf associations and we worked hard to get golf into the Olympics and we were very successful,” Wie told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday ahead of this week’s HSBC Women’s Champions event.
“So since then, I’ve been working really hard and it’s definitely a big goal of mine to make the U.S. Team.”
The top 60 players in the world, with a maximum of four per country, on July 11, 2016 will be eligible to compete in Rio and with Wie currently sixth in the global rankings, the Hawaiian is on target to qualify for Brazil.
However, fellow Americans Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford and Paula Creamer are all ranked in the top 30 and will be gunning for one of the few spots available.
Wie knows the competition will be tough but remains hopeful that she can play at an event she, as a child, never thought would be possible.
“Growing up, I always watched the Olympics and thought it would be so cool to represent my country but I was also very sad because I would never have the opportunity,” she added.
“Now that I have the opportunity it’s definitely one of my biggest goals, one of my biggest dreams is to compete in Rio. So I’m going to be working hard and hopefully I’ll get it.”
Creamer, the defending champion in Singapore, is also driven to make the U.S. Team and regards it as her “number one goal”.
“That is everything that I have ever wanted, to represent my country in the Olympics,” she said. “I have a little bit over a year to kind of get my butt back into shape and get into that — make that team.
“There’s only a couple of girls that get that opportunity to do it and to play, and that is something that I would love to do. I would be honored to do that and I think it’s great for golf in general that it’s in the Olympics.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty