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How motherhood actually extended Michelle Wie West’s career

Michelle Wie West high fives Annika Sorenstam during the 2023 US Women's Open

Michelle Wie West smiles during her final round of competition at the 2023 US Women’s Open.

Getty Images

Happy mothersday! This week we’re highlighting the experiences of some of the most high-profile women in the game, all sharing a meaningful title: Mom. Next: Michelle Wie West.

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ICYMI: Annika Sorenstam Q&A on motherhood, sharing the spotlight
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Last July, Michelle Wie West hit her final approach into the 18th green at Pebble Beach and began a walk she will never forget.

A year earlier, Wie West announced that the 2023 US Women’s Open would be her final event. And on a cold Friday afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula, the time had finally come. Her total of 14 over left her well outside the boundary, but the score did not detract from the moment. After a distinguished career that brought her into the public eye at the age of 10, this walk represented her final curtain call.

The ones that mattered most were there for the time being. Jonnie West, her husband, slid her bag next to her as her mother, Bo (along with many other family and friends), wiped away tears as they watched from the top rope. Wie West’s daughter, 3-year-old Makenna, rode along in her stroller. While she was sleeping, Wie West came over to check on the sleeping toddler.

Motherhood was one of Wie West’s main motivations for stepping away from her playing career. In her final act on the course, she stayed true to her word.

“I want nothing more than for my daughter to be in a better position than I have ever been,” Wie West said in 2022. “I want her to get everything she deserves.”

A few years earlier it would have been difficult to imagine such a scene.

Wie West walked down the course of the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship, contested in Hazeltine, on Friday and was despondent. She had shot consecutive rounds of over 80 to miss the cut, and the wear and tear on her body was one of the main culprits. She had lost confidence in her body’s ability to function at a high enough level to compete. She wasn’t sure she would ever play high-level golf again.

“I was very depressed,” Wie West told the newspaper New York Times. “I felt like my body was letting me down. I was in so much pain.”

Then she discovered she was pregnant, but she feared her body would not be able to carry a baby to term. But as Makenna grew inside her, Wie West became more and more confident in her body. And once her daughter was born, everything changed. She wanted Makenna to see her compete, and she decided to return to the game.

“I probably would have retired before I had her,” Wie West said. “But she actually extended my career. I really wanted to come back and play with her. So I’m very happy to have that experience.”

In a perfect world, Wie West’s return as a mother would have resulted in more titles and another major championship. Reality had other plans in store. The injury bug continued to plague her and she decided that her duties as a mother would replace her career as a golfer.

“I am very happy that I gained that experience,” Wie West now reflects. “But honestly, being home with her more is priceless. I do not regret it. I really think I made the right decision and it’s just great to be a mother.”

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com, where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Before joining GOLF, he attended the University of Texas, followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists with all things instructional and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached via [email protected].