|Michelle Wie (Allison)|
She was the second coming of Tiger Woods, oozing with talent and equipped with a golf swing that so closely resembled Ernie Els's action that, at 14, she was dubbed "The Big Wiesy."
We have all lived through a long decade of ups and downs (too many of them downs, many might say) of Wie's golf career. Then, at last, came a major breakthrough on Sunday evening at the home of American golf.
Perhaps a bit like the man whose fist-thrusting statue graces Pinehurst No. 2, Wie persevered on Sunday for a redemptive victory at the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest prize in golf for the player often thought of as the biggest unfulfilled talent in golf.
Perseverance could be Michelle's middle name. It took her 38 majors and 11 appearances in the Open to claim a trophy that matched her huge ambition and talent. She did it by fixing the biggest flaw in her often jaw-dropping game. Her putting at Pinehurst was exceptional. Wie had no three-putts in 72 holes. That's how you win the Open.
When Wie ran into trouble at the par-4 16th (Stacy Lewis was in the clubhouse at even par after a clutch 66), she took her medicine and walked to the 17th tee with a smile on her face. She still had a 1-stroke lead and good vibes about the upcoming par 3. Nothing, it seemed, was going to get her down.
Then, eyeing a possible birdie to pad her slim lead, Wie stroked what she called "one of the best putts I've ever hit in my life. It was really fast. It was a double breaker." And that was that. She was able to enjoy the stroll down the 18th hole and into golf history, a grin creasing her face.
Somehow Wie smiled all week, despite carrying the pressure of leading this major from start to finish, just as she had somehow managed to smile throughout a career packed with the pressure of enormous expectations. On Sunday evening, she strapped the prized trophy into the passenger seat of her car and tweeted a picture to the world.
"All buckled in!!!!!" Wie said about the shiny new hardware before she climbed into her Kia and drove off.
The long ride for Michelle Wie is suddenly much better.