American golfer Michelle Wie at Royal Canberra Golf Club ahead of the Women's Australian Open which start's on Thursday. Photo: Colleen Petch
Former child prodigy Michelle Wie says she has completely ripped her game apart and started from scratch to rediscover the talent that earned her a $25 million Nike sponsorship at the age of 16.
Billed as the Tiger Woods of the women's game when she burst on to the scene in 2005, Wie takes the first step to turning around a horror 12 months at the Australian Open, starting Thursday at Royal Canberra.
Wie arrives in Canberra having recorded a solitary top-10 finish in 25 starts last year, along with missing the cut 10 times.
It's been three years since the most recent of her two professional victories, but the 23-year-old is aiming to break that drought after a comprehensive overhaul in the off-season.
''2012 was probably the worst year I've ever had in my entire career,'' Wie said. ''One thing led to another and it kind of snowballed.
''I learned a lot last year. Struggling makes you really realise what you have to work on in your game, what's lacking and makes you realise you have to work harder to become a better player.
''Nothing was really spectacular last year, so this off-season I took a bit of time ripping everything apart and starting from new.''
Wie has been making headlines since the age of 10 when she was the youngest to qualify for a US amateur championship.
Six years later, Wie put pen to paper on an astonishing $25 million, five-year deal with Nike to be the face of women's golf the day she turned professional.
A stint playing in men's tournaments proved unsuccessful, and while she still harbours ambitions of teeing off at Augusta for the US Masters, her focus is to establish herself among her own gender.
Ranked No.66 in the world, Wie's most recent tournament victory came at the 2010 Canadian Open.
''I got pretty low a couple of times, but I just won't let myself get to that point,'' she said.
''It (golf) is still something I really love to do.
''I really needed this off-season to take some time and not try to fix everything in one week before a tournament, but to take a good month, two months to really let it slowly get back on track.''
Wie joins a star-studded field at the $1.2 million Australian Open, which is the first time the event has been part of the USLPGA Tour.
Along with world No.1 and two-time champion Yani Tseng and Australian veteran Karrie Webb is the brightest prospect in the sport, New Zealand wunderkind Lydia Ko. The 15-year-old amateur has won three tournaments in the past 13 months, including her home event, the New Zealand Open, last weekend.
It's only natural she would draw comparisons with Wie, who said Ko should be put under no pressure as to whether she decides to turn professional.
''She's a phenomenal player and she seems like she has a great head on her shoulders,'' Wie said. ''Turning pro or not turning pro is a very personal decision.
''When I turned pro, I was very stubborn and I had no regrets. I hope she makes the decision for her.''