OCALA, Fla. >> Well-rested and healthy, Michelle Wie is ready to get back to work.
“I’m very excited for this year,” said Wie, set to begin play Wednesday in the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Coates Golf Championship. “No major swing changes. Just working on building upon last year. I want to just keep the momentum going, just keep building.
“My goal for this year is the same. I want to be consistent, but at the same time I want to get a little bit better each and every day.”
The 25-year-old Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open last year at Pinehurst, then struggled the rest of the season with a stress fracture in her right hand.
“My top priority this year is to stay healthy,” Wie said. “I’ve always kind of struggled with that, so I’m really keeping on top of it. Been working out really hard.”
The sixth-ranked Wie also won last year in her native Hawaii.
She’s one of eight top-10 players in the field at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. Top-ranked Inbee Park also is playing along with No. 2 Lydia Ko, No. 3 Stacy Lewis, No. 5 Suzann Pettersen, No. 8 So Yeon Ryu, No. 9 Karrie Webb and No. 10 Lexi Thompson.
Park and Lewis shared the tour lead last year with three titles. Lewis also had six runner-up finishes.
“That’s what motivates me this year that last year could have been an unbelievable year,” Lewis said. “It was good, but it could have been unbelievable. So that’s what I am looking for, I’m looking for a major this year, but I think it’s really just about trying to get better every day and making little changes here and there that hopefully pay off in the long run.”
A ball change kept her busy during the offseason.
“Normally, I like to put the clubs away for a few weeks and just get rid of them, but I couldn’t this time because I was having to make a golf ball change,” Lewis said. “The golf ball I was playing has come off the conforming list, so I had to find a new golf ball. I tested I think about every golf ball on the market. So that’s what I did most of December.”
Park is starting the season earlier than she has before.
“I never really played the two first events, but I decided to play this year and get the feel of it early,” Park said. “It was a very short offseason, but I feel like I did the things that I really needed to get done. Worked on the swing, worked on rehab, my body.”
Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, is making her first start as a tour member. She won the Australian Ladies Masters in February and recovered from a second-round 79 at Q-school to earn her tour card in December.
“It feels great to officially finally be a member,” Woods said. “I’ve had the privilege to play a few LPGA events in the past, but to now be a member feels a little different. So I’m excited for this week and to finally tee it up.”
Sadena Parks also is starting her rookie season, giving the tour two black members for the first since 1971. Woods and Parks are the fifth and sixth black members in tour history.