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      Wie West relishing US Open return

      China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-04 10:41
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      Michelle Wie West hits her tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the 76th US Women's Open Championship at The Olympic Club on June 3, 2021 in San Francisco, California. [Photo/Agencies]

      SAN FRANCISCO-Michelle Wie West's road back to the US Women's Open was a long one with detours for marriage, motherhood and injuries.

      The 2014 champion is set to play her first Open in three years, starting Thursday at the Olympic Club, just a short drive from her new home base in the Bay Area.

      "It's a really cool feeling being here," she said. "I guess just staying at my house these two weeks is pretty nice. I've never had that happen before at a major tournament. ... Being here at Olympic Club, at another amazing venue, it's really fun. It's really amazing to be back. It's an honor."

      Wie West returned from a near two-year absence from competitive golf this spring but failed to make the cut in the three tournaments she has played so far. She last made a cut in February 2019 at a tour event in Thailand and hasn't even been in the running at a major since tying for 10th place at the 2018 US Women's Open at Shoal Creek.

      That lack of recent success has made Wie West a long shot this week. Seven-time major winner and two-time US Open champion Park In-bee is favored, followed by Ariya Jutanugarn, Ko Jin-young and Lydia Ko at the Lake Course that figures to be especially challenging with deep rough and small greens.

      This is the first time the women are playing the US Open here but the men have held five Opens on this course. Only four players finished under par in those tournaments.

      "It's pretty spectacular," Jessica Korda said. "There's no first cut out here. The rough is high. Greens are really small. It's going to be a difficult test, but I'm really excited about it because this is exactly what a US Open, in my head, always is supposed to look like."

      The deep rough does give Wie West some pause after spending much of her time away recovering from a lingering wrist injury that required surgery in 2018. She described the course as a "beast".

      "I look at it, and I'm like, 'Ugh. It's terrifying,'" she said of the rough. "I'm doing the best I can. I have my devices at home, and I do all of them. I go through all my PT(physical therapy) stuff.

      "I knew when I signed up to come out and play again, especially at the US Open, I knew that it was going to happen. I wasn't expecting to come out and there to be no rough.

      "Does it worry me? Yes. But the last couple of days I hit a lot of shots out of the rough, and I'm feeling pretty confident about it. It will always be what it is. I'm playing definitely on borrowed time, and I'm grateful for every second of it."

      Wie West has been busy during her time away from the tour. She got married in 2019 to Jonnie West, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West and an executive with the Golden State Warriors, gave birth to her daughter, Makenna, last June, and is preparing to be an assistant captain for the Solheim Cup.

      She got a surprise greeting for her practice round Wednesday with a virtual introduction from her husband and daughter, which led to her wiping away a tear.

      Wie West also helped design a tie-dyed LPGA hoodie that has quickly become a hot memorabilia item after Warriors players Kent Bazemore and Damion Lee wore it in April.

      Agencies via Xinhua

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