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Major league

Michelle Wie claims her first major title with a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis

By Associated Press


PINEHURST, N.C. » The road Michelle Wie took to a U.S. Women's Open title was unlike any other, and suddenly insignificant. Whether this was a long time coming was the least of her cares.

The biggest star in women's golf had her name on the biggest trophy.

She never looked happier.

"Oh my god, I can't even think straight," Wie said Sunday after a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis to claim her first major.

The final three holes at Pinehurst No. 2 were filled with ups and downs that Wie knows as well as anyone in golf. She responded with a performance worthy of the hype that had been heaped on her since she was a teenager.

With a three-shot lead on the 16th hole, Wie nearly threw it all away with one poor decision, only keeping the lead by making a nervy 5-foot putt for double bogey. And right when it looked as though this would end badly, the 24-year-old Punahou graduate responded with the putt of her life that made her a Women's Open champion.

Facing a 25-foot birdie putt on 17 that was fast and dangerous, Wie pumped her fist when it fell, then pounded her fist twice to celebrate the moment.

"That kind of emotion, that kind of pressure ... I'll think of that putt as one of the best putts I've ever hit in my life," she said.

A par on the 18th gave her an even-par 70 to beat Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf who made Wie earn it. Lewis made eight birdies — the most in a final round by a male for female in the U.S. Open — and closed with a 66.

Michelle Wie 68-68-72-70 278
Stacy Lewis 67-73-74-66 280
S. Meadow 71-72-69-69 281

Lewis was on the range preparing for a playoff when her caddie told her Wie made birdie on the 17th. Moments later, Lewis was on the 18th green to hug Wie. Like most players, she was perplexed why Wie would spend so much time trying to compete against the men when she still didn't have an LPGA Tour card.

They are friends now and practice frequently. Lewis said she wasn't the last bit surprised that Wie delivered such a clutch moment.

"I think that scene on 18, being on network TV, as many people as we had around there at Pinehurst No. 2 and Michelle Wie winning the golf tournament, I don't think you can script it any better," Lewis said. "I think it's great for the game of golf. I think it's even better for women's golf. I'm so happy for Michelle Wie. I mean this has been such a long time coming for her."

Wie had chance to win this title when she was a 15-year-old amateur at Cherry Hills, and a 16-year-old pro at Newport. The last time she was in this area, she opened with an 82 at Pine Needles in 2007 and walked off the course the next day because of injuries.

She had been one of the biggest stars in women's golf since she was 13 and played in the final group of a major. Her popularity soared along with criticism when she competed against the men on the PGA Tour while still in high school and talked about wanting to play in the Masters.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

The 6-foot Wie is all grown up. She is a Stanford graduate, popular among pros of both genders, and now a major champion.

"I can't believe this is happening," Wie said.

It almost didn't.

Just like her so much of her life, the path included a sharp twist no one saw coming.

Wie started the final round tied with Amy Yang, took the lead when Yang made double bogey on No. 2 and didn't let anyone catch her the rest of the day.

In trouble on the tough fourth hole, she got up-and-down from 135 yards with an 8-iron into 3 feet. Right when Lewis was making a big run, Wie answered by ripping a drive on the shortened par-5 10th and hitting a cut 8-iron into 10 feet for eagle and a four-shot lead.

She had not made a bogey since the first hole — and then it all nearly unraveled.

From a fairway bunker on the 16th, holding a three-shot lead, she stayed aggressive and hit hybrid from the sand.

"I was kind of a dummy for not laying up when I was in that situation," she said. "And it kind of bit me in the butt. But I laughed it off. Stuff like that does happen."

The only time panic began to set in was when no one could find her ball. It finally was located after a three-minute search, buried in a wiregrass bush. She quickly and wisely took a penalty drop behind her in the fairway to limit the damage, chipped to about 35 feet and ran that putt some 5 feet by the hole.

Miss it and she would be tied.

Bent over in that table-top putting stance, she poured it in to avoid her first three-putt of the week. Smiling as she left the green, she hit 8-iron to 25 feet and delivered a putt that will surely rank among the highlights in U.S. Women's Open history.

Wie finished at 2-under 278, the only player to beat par in the second week of championship golf at Pinehurst. Martin Kaymer won by eight shots last week at 9-under 271, the second-lowest score in U.S. Open history.

Juli Inkster, playing her 35th and final U.S. Women's Open, closed with a 75 to tie for 15th. She received the loudest ovation of the week walking up the 18th, until Wie arrived as the winner.

What a journey.

"I think that without your downs, without the hardship, I don't think you appreciate the ups and much as you do," Wie said, the gleaming trophy at her side. "I think the fact that I struggled so much, the fact that I kind of went through a hard period of my life, the fact that this trophy is right next to me, it means so much more to me than it ever would have when I was 15.

"I feel extremely lucky."

Doug Ferguson, Associated Press 

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wahine wrote:
Congratulations Michelle!!! :) Through the journey, you did not let the haters get you down, you got your college education, you are now your are the winner of a major golf event ,and you have made Hawai‘i proud.
on June 23,2014 | 05:43AM
1local wrote:
Michelle has through her life always endorsed Hawaii - she is the best ambassador for Hawaii. Michelle is the best thing that has happened for the LPGA. Michelle will succeed in whatever she endeavors - she is bright, educated, and photogenic...
on June 23,2014 | 08:14AM
frontman wrote:
Hawaii is proud......... Ms Wie is a geat example of the pressure on youth to succeed and out of the lime light was the best thing for her game.....Have fun was the key.
on June 23,2014 | 05:54AM
HawaiiNoKaOi wrote:
Mahalo for representing Hawaii!
on June 23,2014 | 09:22AM
WizardOfMoa wrote:
Way to go Wie, way to go! Congratulation for your well travelled road to a major victory. A golf prodigy, college graduate, professional golfer and well-loved by the people of Hawaii.
on June 23,2014 | 06:06AM
kk808 wrote:
Well said!
on June 23,2014 | 08:12AM
AbnDaddy7 wrote:
Congratulations Michelle!! We who never stopped believing in you, celebrate with you. We are proud of the young woman, example, and person that you've become. For all the naysayers and haters, "how you like her now?" (good for you). Continued success to you.
on June 23,2014 | 06:23AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You go girl and I will never make fun of your putting style again.
on June 23,2014 | 06:42AM
krusha wrote:
Congrats Michelle! Just the first major win of many many more in the future. :)
on June 23,2014 | 07:01AM
connie wrote:
Congratulations Michelle. You've finally caught the wave. It'll be a nice long ride. Enjoy the ride. Putts on holes 16 and 17 yesterday were absolutely clutch. But it was your steady game throughout the Open that won it for you. Only golfer under par. Spectacular.
on June 23,2014 | 07:05AM
Keolu wrote:
A very bright future. Only 24 years old
on June 23,2014 | 07:38AM
jankenpo wrote:
Congrats Michelle! You earned this one. I think this one will elevate your game big time. Stay healthy, be happy and the start of a new successful chapter begins.
on June 23,2014 | 08:10AM
Bdpapa wrote:
What a solid performance! Congratulaions!
on June 23,2014 | 08:16AM
4cents wrote:
Awesome! congratulations!
on June 23,2014 | 08:31AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Great win, hopefully the first of many major championships. Geez, she is talented, good looking, and a Stanford grad to boot!
on June 23,2014 | 08:32AM
saveparadise wrote:
Yay Michelle!!! Just a few months ago I was the only one cheering you on in the comment section. There seem to be many fair weather friends now. What the heck, enjoy it. You deserve it. People just don't understand the work ethic and practice needed in the game of golf to succeed. Just when you think you have it down you don't. The game is always challenging and cruel at times.
on June 23,2014 | 09:20AM
primowarrior wrote:
This win, and Michelle's overall level of play this year, has really stoked my interest in the LPGA. Can't wait to see how she does in the upcoming majors. Congratulations, Michelle!
on June 23,2014 | 09:34AM
tjn wrote:
Michelle seems to have - smartly - worked hard, prepared and honed her game to succeed in challenging, major championship conditions. That is a long term commitment and not easy. Thankfully, those haters doing the easy jobs of spouting their ugly opinions (internet critics - easiest job in the world, no backbone, no ethics) have slinked back into their troll holes, full of hot air and negativity. Hope they stay there, as the rest of us are pretty repulsed by them anyway.
on June 23,2014 | 09:40AM
COlohe1 wrote:
Congrats Michelle. Time for the fair weather fans to jump back on the Wie bandwagon!!!
on June 23,2014 | 10:11AM
loquaciousone wrote:
There are a lot of description that can be used to describe Michelle but when I watch her and the way she acts through the good times and bad, I can only think of one -- CLASSY.
on June 23,2014 | 11:14AM
loquaciousone wrote:
There are a lot of description that can be used to describe Michelle but when I watch her and the way she acts through the good times and bad, I can only think of one -- CLASSY.
on June 23,2014 | 11:14AM
loquaciousone wrote:
There are a lot of description that can be used to describe Michelle but when I watch her and the way she acts through the good times and bad, I can only think of one -- CLASSY.
on June 23,2014 | 11:15AM
loquaciousone wrote:
There are a lot of description that can be used to describe Michelle but when I watch her and the way she acts through the good times and bad, I can only think of one -- CLASSY.
on June 23,2014 | 11:15AM
loquaciousone wrote:
on June 23,2014 | 12:04PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
Great performance! Congratulations!

Now just don't go driving your Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree.
on June 23,2014 | 11:19AM
BigOpu wrote:
I found myself wondering more about the results of Michelle in the Open than the U.S. results against Portugal in the World Cup. Not a Michelle follower per se, but a fan of home grown on the National scene. Full on shaka to Michelle! Great job.
on June 23,2014 | 12:39PM
Readitnow wrote:
Alright Michelle!!! That's one huge trophy that will look great on the trophy wall. But before you put it up, you better check the inside to make sure that Lucy Li didn't leave any ice cream sticks or wrappers in it. Ha!
on June 23,2014 | 01:28PM
danji wrote:
Plase let's live in reality. Michelle is not the biggest name in women's golf. There are a lot of other women golfers that are bigger than her. Give the lewis, Park, Pettersons, Creamer more credit. Even Ko is excellent . Congrats to Michelle , just continue your good play and maybe you will become the biggest draw in women's golf. Hope you don't turn out to be like what has happened to Rory.
on June 23,2014 | 01:58PM
Bdpapa wrote:
But they are are not from here! We've been waiting for this.
on June 23,2014 | 02:21PM
loquaciousone wrote:
People don't tune in the LPGA to watch Lewis and co. but they do tune in to watch Michelle -- just like Tiger.
on June 23,2014 | 02:26PM
BigOpu wrote:
Wow danji, why you got to rain on the parade? Local girl done good. Don't be such a golf snob. Seems to be a lot of those associated with the sport.
on June 23,2014 | 03:48PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
If you mean that she isn't the best women's golfer, I agree with you. I think Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park are better. If you mean name attraction and star power, there is no one close to her. She is the only one that move the needle enough to elevate the LPGA. Look at the numbers just for this week. TV ratings up almost 90% over last year. The LPGA better hope she continues to win.
on June 23,2014 | 04:57PM
Lcwc wrote:
danji, if you think any of the golfers you mentioned are a bigger draw than Wie, you either are a hater or really don't follow golf much. You can argue whether she is the best golfer out there or is deserving of the hype, but no one with a straight face could say she's not the biggest draw.
on June 23,2014 | 05:08PM
808noelani wrote:
Congratulations to Michelle! If she can keep the putter working I wouldn't be surprised if she moves up to No. 1 by next year. That's the part of her game that has been holding her back as she has power and finesse unlike other players. But we'll see as golf is a quirky game and anything can happen and that's why they say "that's golf". BTW this major win will increase her marketing value with Nike, Omega, Kia and others although she really doesn't need it as she reportedly made close to $20 in her first professional year as a 16 year old high school student.
on June 23,2014 | 02:02PM
golfgang wrote:
Congrats Michelle! You earned it ~~ stuck to your convictions (getting your degree from Stanford; keeping positive and making the changes you needed to build your confidence; and going for it!!!). We saw you in-person at Lotte and on TV for this major U.S. Women's Open Championship!!! Awesome, loved the 'shaka' and embracing Hawaii!!! On to #1 in the world for 2014!!!
on June 23,2014 | 04:25PM