Michelle Wie got her breakthrough win in a major golf championship by holding on for a two-stroke victory over world No. 1 Stacy Lewis at the U.S. Women’s Open.
More than a decade after she was thrust into the spotlight by competing against U.S. PGA Tour players at the age of 14, Wie was the lone player to finish under par at Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course in North Carolina, with a four-round total of 2-under-par 278.
Wie, 24, shot an even-par 70 in yesterday’s final round and followed a double-bogey on the 16th hole with a birdie on the penultimate hole to help earn her fourth career LPGA title. It was the second win in six starts for Wie, who entered the U.S. Women’s Open at 11th in the Rolex World Ranking.
“I definitely got a lot of goose bumps walking up 18 because I thought to myself how cool it was,” Wie said.
Wie, the second American in the past seven years to win the U.S. Women’s Open, received $720,000 to push her earnings this year to almost $1.6 million. Her victory came a week after Martin Kaymer of Germany won the men’s U.S. Open on the same course by eight strokes for his second major title.
Lewis matched the best round of the championship yesterday with a final-round 66 to leave her even par overall.
“I knew I needed to get out early and post some numbers and make Michelle Wie earn it,” Lewis said.
Wie’s lead was cut to one stroke after the double-bogey at the par-4 16th hole, where she had to take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie when her second shot buried in the deep grass in the face of a greenside bunker. Wie recovered with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole to regain a two-stroke lead and then two-putted for par from 12 feet on the 18th hole for the win.
Ups and Downs
Wie had six top-10 finishes before she turned professional the week of her 16th birthday in 2005 and then had six more top-10s over the next three years. Following the 2008 season, Wie was ranked 238 in the world. After struggling with her putting in recent years -- she ranked 119th on tour in 2012 -- she made a change to a bent-over stance.
Wie in April finished second at the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and won her next start at the LPGA Lotte Championship in her home state of Hawaii.
“There are moments of doubt in there,” Wie said. “But I had so many people surrounding me, my family, my friends, my coaches -- they never lost faith in me, that’s what pushed me forward. It’s amazing.”
After Wie’s final putt dropped yesterday, Lewis was among the first to offer congratulations.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better for this tour,” Lewis said. “She’s been working so hard and she’s a friend of mine and to see how far she’s come even over just the last year, how much better she’s playing and more confident she is as a person. So to see her win, I’m just so happy for her.”