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Wie wins U.S. Open, first major championship

6/23/2014

PINEHURST, N.C. (MCT) -- Michelle Wie is the U.S. Women's Open champion.

Sit back and let that sink in for a few seconds.

Wie no longer is the wonder girl who once wanted to play against the guys, the golf prodigy from Honolulu. She's no longer the 17-year-old who walked off the course in tears at the Women's Open seven years ago, her career in tatters, or one whose name always carried more magic than her golf game.

She's finally done it, won a big one, won a major championship. Let the toasts begin. Wie, at 24, has proven that she can handle the pressure, the heat, in the final round of the biggest tournament in women's golf.

For Wie, an even-par 70 Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2 gave her a 2-under 278 total and made her a two-shot winner over Stacy Lewis. Other than a double-bogey at the 16th hole late in the day, it was a rock-solid round, Wie at her best, on a course that first tested the best men's golfers in the world in the U.S. Open and then the best of women's golf a week later.

A birdie at the 17th hole, after the slip at the 16th, had Wie pumping her fist. All that was left was the 18th, and a par at the last finished it off.

Wie again was in tears at a Women's Open. Tears of joy this time.

Back-to-back Opens at No. 2 gave us a talented German champion in Martin Kaymer, who won by eight shots and was never pushed in the final round. And Wie's Open victory will be well-received, giving the United States an American champion.

Wie shared a four-shot lead with Amy Yang of South Korea after the third round, after letting a four-shot lead slip away on the back nine with some poor drives. But Wie quickly broke away from Yang on Sunday, bogeying the first hole but then stringing pars together.

An early test was at the par-4 fourth, where Wie bunkered her drive and caught the lip of the bunker with her second. But she put her third a few feet from the pin and calmly knocked in a sidehill 3-footer for par while Yang three-putted for bogey.

At the par-5 10th, Wie easily reached the green in two and drained the eagle putt, thrusting out a fist. She was 3-under par for the tournament, four shots head, and again in control.

But the world's top-ranked golfer suddenly was lurking. Lewis, not heard from since a first-round 67, was playing with Paula Creamer six groups ahead of Wie and Yang -- and making birdies.

Lang had eight birdies in all to go with four bogeys, going birdie-birdie at the 17th and 18th holes for a 66 that matched the low round of the Women's Open. She posted an even-par 280 total.

"It feels great to finish the way I did," Lewis said in an NBC interview after the round. "I knew I had to get out early and post a number and make Michelle earn it."