This story appears in the June 11 Women in Sports issue of ESPN The Magazine. MICHELLE WIE STANDS in the Pacific Ocean, barefoot and tugging on jean shorts.
Her bright blue fingernails dig into deep-blue denim, and her neon-pink-streaked hair whips in the Honolulu wind. Earlier this morning, while waiting to cross the street to get to this photo shoot, a middle-aged man in a silver Porsche screeched to a halt and yelled that he loved her.
Her final term paper, in which she analyzed toy websites for gender stereotypes, was required to be eight pages.
It stretched to 27 because she didn't want her last assignment to end.
"Talent has never been the issue," says David Leadbetter, her coach, who has worked with Wie since she was 14. She's looking at Yani Tseng and thinking, I better get on my bike and start pedaling.
But she has to learn how to be consistent." Consistency is what Wie is fighting for almost daily, trying to recapture the mindset she had at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship, when she became the youngest player to make an LPGA cut.
The Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, and Wie, 24, went to Stanford University at the same time.
" says Christina Kim, who was paired with Wie that day and has remained one of her closest friends in the game.
"I almost didn't have the passion because it was so easy.
Now that I've struggled, I appreciate what it feels like to be on top." She understands the stakes.
J., her mother, Bo, her manager, Jeehae Lee, and her Pomeranian, Lola, remain the only constants.
"When I was younger, everything came easy," Wie says.