HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Michelle Wie kicked off her 2018 Lotte Championship surrounded by winners literally. Wie, a 2014 Lotte champion herself, was grouped with the defending champ at Ko Olina, Cristie Kerr as well as 2015 Lotte winner Sei Young Kim. But, even for a group of past champions, one of them a local product at that, the blustering windy conditions proved to be challenging.
"I feel like back in the day I was used to it because I played it every week," said Wie. "Now that I'm back on the mainland - when I come back I'm a little surprised by it. But, yea it makes it a little bit tougher. But yea I like playing in the wind. I think this golf course should be played in the wind."
2017 Champion, Cristie Kerr set a course record at last year's Lotte, winning the tournament after going 20-under over the course of four days on Oahu's west side. But, even she admitted this year the weather has her changing up her game.
"You have to read different breaks sometimes," said Kerr. "If the wind is hurting your putt it's going to play slower or faster if it's down wind - you just have to kind of feel it out and judge it."
While all of the competitors have their ways of dealing with the wind, Wie says she has an extra edge that most of the other competitors at KoOlina don't - a cheering section full of dozens of friends and family supporting her all throughout the course.
"You know I love seeing familiar faces in the crowd," said Wie. "A lot of my friends came out to watch, so that was really fun. But yea, I love to play in front of the hometown crowd. Just being able to play in Hawaii, in my hometown, is a very special feeling. It's something that I cherish and look forward too every year so it's going to be a very fun week."