It has been four long years, but Michelle Wie is finally back in the winner’s circle. Wie overcame a four stroke deficit in the final round to win the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii with a total of 14-under 274. Angel Stanford, who led the tournament after three rounds, shot 73 on Saturday and finished second at 12 under.
Wie put the pressure on right out of the gate in the final round, making three birdies and finishing the front nine in 33. Stanford had a birdie on the third hole, but would bogey numbers six and eight. Her four-shot cushion had disappeared in just nine holes, and Wie would continue to put the pressure on with birdies on 12 and 13 to take a two-shot lead. Stanford would close back to within one with a birdie of her own on 14 but it wasn’t enough. A birdie by Wie on 16 gave her the insurance she needed.
A native of Hawaii, Wie had gone 79 LPGA tournaments without a win. She came close in early April, finishing second to Lexi Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The win on Saturday at the Ko Olina course on Oahu was her first on her home soil and also her first in the United States. Wie’s first two wins were the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico, and the 2010 Canadian Women’s Open.
Even though she had no wins in 2013, her results showed that her game was coming into form. Wie made the cut in 19 of 26 tournaments in which she played last year with four top-10 finishes.
On the PGA Tour, Luke Donald leads the RBC Heritage by two shots after three rounds at Hilton Head, SC, but he is not counting on the first place trophy just yet. Donald has finished in the top-3 at this event in each of the past four years but has no wins to show for it. His closest was in 2011 when he lost in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker.
Formerly No.1 in the world, Donald hit the ground running on Saturday, sinking a 25-footer for eagle on the second hole. Three bogeys and two birdies put him at one under 35 as he made the turn. He sizzled on the back nine, making four birdies and five pars to finish at five under par 66. Donald’s total for three days at the Harbour Town Links is eight under par, two shots clear of John Huh.
Huh was even par after the first round but has been consistent on Friday and Saturday, carding three-under 68 on both rounds. His six-under total is one better than four golfers who are tied for third going into the final round. Charl Schwartzel, Nicholas Thompson, Jim Furyk and Ben Martin are all at five under.
First round leader Matt Kuchar had a tough day on Friday, making two double bogeys and shooting 73, but he came back with 70 on Saturday. He is one of five golfers tied for seventh at four under par. Defending champion Graeme McDowell is seven shots off the pace at one under, and Jordan Spieth is at even par, eight strokes back.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky