June 24, 2014 10:46
Michelle Wie won her first ever major title on Sunday at the U.S. Women's Open in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
With 2-under 278, Wie finished two strokes ahead of runner-up Stacy Lewis to pick up her fourth career LPGA Tour title and a check for US$720,000.
Amy Yang finished fourth with 2-over 282, and Park In-bee finished in 43rd place with 13-over.
Wie has been a golf prodigy since her teenage years. Her long driving distance bolstered her fame, helping her enter men's competitions and earn US$10 million in endorsements. After she entered Stanford University in 2007, she won one title in 2009 and another in 2010.
Then she hit a slump and had to struggle over the last few years with the accuracy of her drives. In 2012, she ended up at 119th for putts per green in regulation (GIR) -- the number of putts taken on the green. She also fell to 64th on the money leader list.
After some reflection, Wie began bending her waist at almost 90 degrees before taking putts in order to compensate for her tall stature. She said she took inspiration in this respect from Korea's Shin Ji-yai and Japan's Ai Miyazato, two very strong putters who are both significantly shorter.
In April, she won the Lotte Championship in Hawaii and moved up to second in GIR and fourth in putts per GIR.
"Life is so ironic. Without your downs, without the hardships, I don't think you appreciate the ups as much as you do," Wie said. "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."
She added that the second act of her golf career has just begun.
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