Michelle Wie wins the U.S. Women’s Open
Since Tiger Woods burst onto the scene nearly twenty years ago, it seems like golf has been on a never-ending chase to find the next phenom. Sergio Garcia, Ty Tryon, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy and others have all had varying degrees of success, but no one will ever be Tiger Woods. This is a fact.
The women’s game has had it’s fair share of “next one” athletes as well, with much of the attention being paid now to Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko, but for the longest time, it was Michelle Wie that occupied that mantle. She was a star before she became a teenager, competing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at ten, and qualifying for her first LPGA Tour event at 12. She was compared to Tiger Woods by a lot of people, her father included, and the expectation was that she was going to just come out and dominate the women’s game, running through fields and winning tournaments routinely by double digits.
We all know that didn’t happen, and there are tons of reasons why, but the most logical explanation is actually the one that fits best with Wie and any of the other players listed above.
It’s hard to believe that Wie’s still just 24, isn’t it? The length of time that she’s been in the spotlight would lead you to believe that she’s older than that, but she’s actually the same age that Annika Sorenstam was when she won her first major championship at Broadmoor in the 1995 U.S. Open. This win shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. If you’ve been paying attention to the women’s game over the last 18 months, you know that Wie has turned a corner, focusing more on the game, which is something that she mentioned to David Feherty in her appearance on his show a little while ago.
Meg Mallon’s controversial selection of Wie on last year’s American Solheim Cup team meant a lot, and she played well enough to justify Mallon’s selection. She was in the final group with Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year, and she followed it up with her third LPGA Tour win a few weeks later in Hawaii. This may be her first major championship win, but with four wins on the LPGA Tour at the age of 24, she has a pretty prolific record, and more importantly, she’s got a lot of time left.
As Shane Bacon wrote during the Nabisco a few months ago, Michelle Wie is someone you should be rooting for. This win is huge for Wie, and it could be massive for the LPGA Tour and women’s golf. It’s already been fantastic year filled with exciting finishes and big stars winning huge events, and Wie winning the biggest event in women’s golf is a very big deal. Much like Tiger, Wie moves the needle and that’s what the game needs more than anything.
It’s fitting that Wie would come away victorious in a tournament where 11-year old Lucy Li was the big story, at least for the first two days before she missed the cut. Li wasn’t even born when Wie played her first LPGA Tour event back in 2002, and it’s far too early to tell what kind of career she’ll have in golf, if any. She was just happy to be there, much like Wie was twelve years ago and her performance, even in missing the cut was phenomenal. If there’s anyone that knows what Li went through this week, it would be Wie.
She may not have turned out to be Tiger Woods, but that’s okay. Michelle Wie is doing just fine.