Wie joins the Major ranks at Pinehurst
She’s just 24-years of age but you’d be convinced she’s in the ‘wily veteran’ status, after many years in the public eye. A child prodigy at age 13 when she played her first US Women’s Open,Michelle Wie has at last fulfilled some of her massive potential by claiming the 69th US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
“I’m so happy right now, I’m just unbelievably happy.” she said. “I’m so honoured to be part — to have my name on the trophy. Just so grateful for everything.”
Michelle Wie (Credit: Getty Images)
“I’m really thankful, just everything, feeling every single emotion I can right now.”
Australian eyes were on our own amateur prodigy Minjee Lee’s bid to overcome a four-stroke deficit with a round to play, with two-time champion Karrie Webb an outside chance from a shot further adrift. Sadly, neither fired on all cylinders and dropped well off the pace with rounds of 76 and 77.
The stage was set for Wie, co-leader heading into the final round with 2006 Australian Ladies Masters champion Amy Yang, to rubber stamp her rise in 2014 to becoming a consistent force in women’s golf with a maiden major championship victory.
As Wang fell away and world number one Stacy Lewis became an unlikely threat with a final round four-under 66, Wie played confidently throughout but faced a test on the 16th hole when her ball became tangled with a clump of natural wire grass in the now famous waste areas at Pinehurst.
“Stuff happens like that,” Wie of her predicament, “It’s a US Open; I just wanted to keep my calm.”
However, she stopped the bleeding with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to allow her to take a ‘surreal’ walk down the final hole to claim victory with a 2-under par 278 total, two strokes ahead of Lewis with unheralded Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland, who turned professional a week ago, in outright third at 1-over 281.
Wie has had a chequered and largely unfulfilled career in the glaring headlights of the public eye over the past decade, an enormous hitter who drew the ire of many by competing against the men on the PGA Tour in her mid-teens.
Injury, loss of form and a return to college at Stanford had many questioning whether this day would ever come but in 2014 alone, she has really hit her straps with eight top-10 finishes in 12 starts and a third LPGA victory at the LPGA Lotte Championship at home in Hawaii in April.
Now she has a fourth and to an American, the most prestigious of them all.
“It just means so much more to me,” she said. “I think life is just so ironic. I think that without your downs, without the hardships, I don’t think you appreciate the ups as much as you do.”
Despite her final round disappointment, Lee had a wonderful championship in her first US Open, finishing tied 22nd, two ahead of Webb in tied 30th.
“Pretty disappointing.” Lee said, “But golf is golf, and you have bad days. Yeah, it’s okay.”
Nikki Campbell (T46) and Katherine Hull (T49) also had successful weeks, Campbell making the cut after surviving sectional qualifying for the championship.