Wie's long wait finally over

Former child prodigy wins first title since 2014 with monster 45-foot putt on 18th

American Michelle Wie, holding aloft the HSBC Women's World Championship trophy, has battled multiple injuries in recent years before she returned to winning ways yesterday.
American Michelle Wie, holding aloft the HSBC Women's World Championship trophy, has battled multiple injuries in recent years before she returned to winning ways yesterday.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Cradling the HSBC Women's World Championship trophy with both hands, Michelle Wie was offered a celebratory can of beer which she gladly accepted. Asked if she needed help carrying the massive silverware, she politely declined.

Having waited 1,351 days for her fifth LPGA Tour win, Wie was never going to let the prize out of her grasp. That the victory arrived in dramatic fashion yesterday with a 45-foot birdie on the 18th hole - "the best putt of my career so far" - would have made the occasion even sweeter for the American.

It was Wie's seventh and final birdie on an unblemished scorecard - she started the day five shots behind overnight leader Nelly Korda - as she closed with a seven-under 65 for a one-shot victory at the US$1.5 million (S$2 million) event.

The 28-year-old finished on 17-under 271, one ahead of compatriots Korda (71), Danielle Kang (70), South Korean Jenny Shin (65) and Canadian Brooke Henderson (67).

Wie had led after three rounds last year but finished tied-fourth.

That loss to Korean Park In Bee was burned into her memory and she wanted "revenge". "I kind of came with a slight chip on my shoulder in the morning. I came back, having the confidence knowing that I can do it, and I just really wanted to finish the deal," said Wie.

Wie's last LPGA Tour title had been the 2014 US Women's Open and the former child prodigy, who turned pro a week before her 16th birthday, has battled hip, knee and ankle injuries in recent years which have contributed to her inconsistent form. Since her last win, she has 25 missed cuts from 81 starts and managed just six top-five finishes.

Pure joy for Wie after sensational comeback: It took four years but American golf star Michelle Wie is finally a champion again, and in dramatic fashion. The 28-year-old sank a 45-foot birdie on the 18th hole to capture the HSBC Women's World Championship yesterday by a single stroke. Wie shot a seven-under 65 and finished with a winning score of 17-under 271 at the US$1.5 million (S$2 million) event, which drew 27,742 fans during the week.The win at the Sentosa Golf Club was Wie's fifth LPGA Tour title. The former child prodigy, who turned pro at 15, last tasted victory at the 2014 US Women's Open. She has battled hip, knee and ankle injuries in recent years, and last August underwent emergency surgery to remove her appendix. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG


  • Selected (USA unless stated)

    271 Michelle Wie 67 73 66 65

    272 Jenny Shin (Kor) 71 68 68 65, Brooke Henderson (Can) 68 72 65 67, Danielle Kang 68 64 70 70, Nelly Korda 70 66 65 71

    273 Ko Jin Young (Kor) 72 67 67 67, Minjee Lee (Aus) 71 66 68 68

    276 Lydia Ko (Nzl) 71 71 67 67

    282 Feng Shanshan (Chn) 70 70 71 71

Throughout the week at the Sentosa Golf Club, she has sported kinesiology tape on her right knee and both wrists. She had surgery to remove her appendix last August and had collagen injections in both wrists in the off-season to cope with arthritic pain. She said: "It's been a tough journey since 2014. I've had some injuries, had a really bad year (in 2016 with 13 missed cuts), just lost a lot of confidence.

"But I'm just really proud of pulling myself out of it. I just want to keep rising. I just want to keep playing the best I can, trying the hardest I can and trying to become the best player that I can be."

Her game over the weekend, when the pressure at the New Tanjong course was at its most intense, was sensational. She was 13-under over the final 36 holes, the best score among the 62 players.

Her good friend Kang, who led after the second round, summed up the difference: "At the end of the day, if you're going to win, you're going to have your whole game, and it just wasn't quite all there (for me)."

Korda's non-compliant putter was her undoing; she needed 33 putts yesterday, eight more than Wie. She had a chance to force a play-off with Wie but missed her birdie putt from eight feet on the 18th and had to be consoled by her older sister Jessica afterwards.

Korda said: "It definitely hurts, but that's golf."

It was an equally harsh lesson for Shin, who held a one-stroke lead with one hole to play at the 2012 edition but lost in a play-off. This time, she was 17-under and in the lead when she reached the 18th tee.

She hit a poor approach, a poor chip, missed her par putt and missed out again. She said: "The nerves that I got on 18th, I think any human being would experience it."

While she tried to shield her anguish, Wie could not hide her joy and hugged her mother Bo and caddie Matthew Galloway when her win was confirmed.

The HSBC trophy will join Wie's other trophies in her living room in Florida. "I have a shelf above the fireplace and they are kind of there," she said. "Some are on a table. I need to build a wall but I haven't. I'll find a place for them."

Somewhere, no doubt, where she can keep a close eye on them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2018, with the headline 'Wie's long wait finally over'. Subscribe