Michelle Wie West, one of golf’s most famous players since she was 10, enjoyed breakfast Tuesday morning in the Players’ Dining Room at the US Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina.

“I had someone come to me,” said Wie West, 32, “saying they had my name.”

She rolled her eyes softly and deadpan, “So that made me feel really young. I am at this phase of my life.

Last week, Wie West announced she was quitting competitive golf after this week’s championship. She does not plan to play another LPGA tournament in 2022. The only other event she expects to play is the 2023 US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

She only used the word “retirement” once when speaking to reporters on Tuesday and admitted she could change her mind. But for Wie West, who played major championships shortly after her 16th birthday, won five LPGA events, including the 2014 US Women’s Open, racked up endorsements and earnings in the tens of millions of dollars and , notably, played eight times against men on the PGA Tour, there was the rhythm of finality in his voice.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” Wie West said. “It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m very excited for what’s to come next.”

The future, however, could wait at least another 10 minutes as Wie West tried to sum up his career, which, due to his early introduction to elite golf, was lived under the obsessively bright lights of international stardom. Her career was also significantly disrupted by wrist injuries, which caused her to play intermittently or not at all for long stretches. In June 2020, with her husband Jonnie West, she became a parent for the first time with the birth of the couple’s daughter, Makenna.

“First of all, I want to say that I have no regrets in my career,” she said. “There is always this idea of ​​wishing that I had done more. But no one will ever be 100% satisfied.

“I’ve certainly had a rocky career, but I’m extremely proud of the resilience I’ve shown,” she said. “I’m extremely proud to have achieved the two biggest dreams I’ve had – one graduating from Stanford and the other winning the US Open.”

Wie West smiled, laughed and was at ease. Among all the very public moments of her very public career, it seemed to be easy, and she was happy to be back as part of her iconic achievement on the course.

“I’m definitely giving myself some grace and enjoying this last week,” she said.

For Wie West, whose presence, multiple skills and towering workouts drew comparisons to Tiger Woods, what went unsaid was her impact on women’s golf. She never addressed the subject directly or acknowledged her own substantial influence on the sport’s popularity, but when asked what had changed in women’s football over the past 20 years, Wie West was animated.

“Oh, I mean, so many things have changed,” she replied. “Big kudos to the USGA for truly investing in women’s sports and to the LPGA for growing and continuing to push the boundaries.

“When the doors close on us, we keep pushing, and I’m so proud of everyone on tour and the USGA for really sticking with it and setting the standard,” she said.

In January, the United States Golf Association nearly doubled the US Women’s Open prize money to $10 million, with this year’s championship winner earning $1.8 million, the richest single payout in golf. feminine.

A year ago, only three women on the LPGA Tour earned more than $1.8 million. While the prize money for the men’s US Open is $12.5 million, USGA General Manager Mike Whan plans to raise the women’s purse to $12 million within a few years.

Golf industry sponsorship contract payouts awarded to top male golfers continue to eclipse most of those awarded to women.

But on that front, Wie West, who joined the LPGA Board of Directors last year and continues to serve in that capacity, had some advice, drawn from personal experience, for golfers who come after him.

“As female athletes, we’re often told, ‘Oh, your sponsorship is only worth that; you should only ask for that,” Wie West said. “We’re kind of in that mindset, and I would encourage young female athletes to come and say, ‘No, I know my worth. I know what I deserve. And ask for more.

When asked if that’s what she’s done—successfully—she replied, “Yes, of course.”

Wie West is also an investor in a company, LA Golf, which she said was committed to launching new initiatives for female golfers in hopes of changing the sponsorship landscape financially.

In the short term, Wie West still has a tournament to play this week, a tournament for which, given her other priorities, she hasn’t prepared as she might have 10 or 20 years ago.

“I definitely didn’t have the training schedule I usually do before the US Open,” she said with a smile. “This week, I’m soaking up everything. I see all the fans, I see all the players, I’m walking the pace. It’s really cool.”

Being a former champion of the event helps Wie West enjoy the experience, perhaps more significantly than anyone would have imagined. In what was somewhat of a surprise, she said that without winning the US Women’s Open trophy eight years ago, there would be no end in sight to her competitive career.

“It’s the only tournament I’ve wanted to win since I started playing golf,” said Wie West. She then insisted, “If I hadn’t won the 2014 US Open, I would still be doing it — I definitely wouldn’t be retiring. And I will always be here playing and chasing after this victory. This win means everything to me.