April 21, 2014 11:32
Korean-American Michelle Wie ended her long LPGA title drought by winning the Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in her native Hawaii on Sunday. She carded six birdies and one bogey for a final-round 67 to end at 14-under 274.
She played it safe in the closing round to overcome a two-stroke deficit and finish two strokes ahead of Angela Stanford of the U.S.
Her performance demonstrated how the 24-year-old has switched things up since her days as a teen prodigy a decade ago when she surprised the world with her 300-yard drives.
Wie has struggled over the last few years with the accuracy of her drives but seemed more comfortable in Kapolei as she teed off with a 3-wood.
She got lower to the ground when putting and 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. By extending her back to an almost 90-degree angle Wie could approximate their eye level to the course, she said.
Although some critics earlier ridiculed such a game plan, it seemed to work as Wie has shaved two or three putts off her game since applying this technique.
Wie's third career LPGA title earned her US$255,000 and sent her to the top of the money list with a total of $616,555. Her world ranking also jumped from 23rd to 13th. It was also Wie’s first win in 79 competitions since the CN Canadian Women's Open in August 2010. Her first title on the Tour was the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2009.
Wie's strong form should make this season's Tour more interesting and pose a threat to the current triumvirate of power -- Korea’s Park In-bee, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis of the U.S.
Wie has posted four top-10 finishes in seven events this season and not finished outside the top 20.
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