By Stephanie Wei
After Michelle Wie tapped in a birdie on the 72nd hole at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, she let out a big sigh of relief. Competing for the first time as a 20-something-year-old, she won her first professional tournament. It was the moment many in the golfing world have been waiting for most of this decade.
With a final-round leaderboard that included some of the LPGA’s biggest names, Michelle achieved what she hadn’t been able to do in the past — she closed a tournament. Playing alongside standout Cristie Kerr on Sunday, she played the final six holes bogey-free. She finished the day with a 3-under 69 and a four-day total 13-under to beat Paula Creamer by two strokes.
Hampered by injuries, controversy and botched opportunities, her career has been fraught with disappointment brought on by the enormous expectations. This year she’s finally living up to them. She started the year by placing second at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay. She also earned 7 other top-ten finishes. And with her stellar performance at the Solheim Cup in August, Juli Inkster prophetically declared, “I would bet you a large amount of money that Michelle will win before the year is out.” Just five tournaments later, it happened.
Considered The Player Who Will Single-Handedly Save the LPGA Tour, the timing of her victory couldn’t have been better — the Tour announces its 2010 schedule next week in Houston and they’re probably still searching for some of those big-money sponsors to fill in a few holes. A dominant Michelle Wie will definitely help the cause.
[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]