Dubai: Michelle Wie is hoping to make a triumphant comeback to golf as she prepares to tee up for the Dubai Ladies Masters, the season-ending event of the Ladies European Tour.
Wie has been out of the game with a back injury for almost a month after withdrawing from the second round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last month.
Among other top players in the field are defending champion Korea’s world Number seven In Kyung-kim, American 15-year-old sensation Alexis Thompson, American Solheim Cup star Christina Kim, and the 2008 champion Anja Monke of Germany.
While the battle for the 500,000 euro tournament will be intense, there is also the honour of becoming European number one.
That fight for the Money List crown will be between South African Lee-Anne Pace, who has won five tournaments this season from 24 events played, and English veteran Laura Davies, who has been crowned European number one seven times.
Wie said she was hoping to give herself a boost before taking a holiday.
“I’ve just been rehabbing, recovering. I hit some balls last week so this week I’m just going to go out there and try to play pain free,” Wie said.
“It’s really important to finish strong, so I think it would make my vacation a lot more fun if I play really well this week, just go out there and ending with a bang would be great.
“I did feel like I improved over the course of the season so that was good. You know, obviously little glitches here and there held me back, but hopefully, for the next year I’ll be a lot stronger mentally and physically.
“I really hope I haven’t reached my peak yet. I do feel like I have a lot more.”
Davies, who is trailing Pace by a little over 32,000 euros, needs to finish at least third or better to stand a chance to win the Order of Merit.
The Englishwoman, who has never finished outside the top-four in her three previous starts at the Majlis Course, reiterated her love for the game and said she has no plans to retire.
“I love playing golf and travelling around the world. So, I really don’t want to stop playing any time soon,” she said.
“If I am competitive, then I don’t really want to do anything else. Tom Watson nearly won the Open last year at 59. I am 45, and maybe have another 14 years, who knows.
“I’m not comparing myself to Tom Watson, but if he can still be playing that well against the class of players he was playing against last year, you never know.
Pace will become the first South African to win the Ladies European Tour’s Money List honour, and she is unfazed at the prospect of facing the legendary Davies.
The 29-year-old said: “Of course, she is a great player. She’s won so many tournaments and she’s got all of the experience in the world.
“At the same time, I’m still on form and playing really well. I don’t see myself worrying about her simply because I have to do what I have to do. I can’t think of how she’s going to play.
“In order for me to win the tournament, I have to do the same things that I have been doing, so that’s my goal for the week.”