DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Fans turned out yesterday to see Michelle Wie hit golf balls, model clothes and sign autographs.
Wie still an attraction
Michelle Wie is returning in style.
The soon-to-graduate Punahou senior made an appearance yesterday at the Roger Dunn Golf Shop, promoting Nike apparel while offering driving and putting demonstrations to fans.
There was even a miniature modeling ramp for her to do a fashion show.
"It's the first time I've done anything like this, and so far everyone's been treating me really nicely, and it's been a fun day," Wie said.
If there was any pain left from a nagging wrist injury, she didn't show it while she cranked some drives and offered golf tips.
Her first event since spraining her left wrist will be the LPGA Ginn Tribute. It begins May 31. Wie has kept a low profile since January, when she failed to make the cut in the PGA's Sony Open in Hawaii.
Judging by the shredded black canvas that absorbed her thunderous drives at point-blank range, Michelle Wie's comeback effort is in full swing.
A new tour of sorts kicked off for her yesterday, as part of a promotional Nike Golf Interactive Experience. An overflow crowd filled the Roger Dunn Golf Shop to watch Wie give golf demonstrations, autographs ... and a fashion show.
The 17-year-old hasn't played in an event since missing the cut in January's Sony Open -- in which she shot a 14-over 154 -- while nursing a sore right wrist that had plagued her since last fall.
Comments on her wrist and upcoming LPGA (and possibly PGA) schedule were in short supply, but Wie looked to be in top form as she showed off tee shots with full force in the back of the shop.
"Yeah, I've never hit a shot in a pro shop before, but I guess you can tee off anywhere," Wie said with a laugh. "But it's a lot of fun. It's different; it's not like any day playing on the golf course. Not a lot of people will see me hit a ball in a pro shop."
She'll be back on a golf course on May 31, as she's previously scheduled the LPGA's Ginn Tribute in South Carolina as her comeback event.
For fans closer to home, Wie will also host a similar demonstration today at 1 p.m. at NikeTown in Waikiki, along with PGA club professionals Ed Kageyama and Scott Bridges.
One thing she would reflect on was her last day of school as a Punahou senior, on Friday. But she will miss the upcoming Buffanblu graduation ceremony.
"I'm done with high school," Wie said with a laugh. "I'm so over it. But I went to prom. Prom was a lot of fun. After school yesterday it was very emotional, and stuff like that. They made me a slide show, all the memories we had together, that was really sweet."
Now she has college at Stanford to look forward to in the fall, albeit not as a member of the Cardinal golf team. She admitted to a little trepidation.
"I think Stanford is going to be awesome," said Wie, who already took a trip to Palo Alto, Calif., to preview her collegiate life. "At first I was scared, whether people were going to be not so nice, or I don't adapt to the situation. But when I went to Stanford for a weekend everyone was just so awesome, so nice, and so accepting that it made me look forward to it more."
Wie's parents, B.J. and Bo, watched her demonstrations with the rest of the "gallery." Fans had been lined up for autographs from one side of the shop to the other before noon.
"I'm really grateful that they all came out and saw me (yesterday)," Wie said. "I was thinking, 'Oh, I wonder if any people were going to come today.' I'm glad that people did. I hope people come (today). It's a good thing to know that you have people supporting you."
B.J. Wie likewise would not comment on his daughter's injury status or possible men's events, saying he "wanted to focus on today."