Michelle Wie nailed a long birdie putt from off the green at the final hole to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship by one shot.
On a day of low scoring in sunny conditions, a playoff looked imminent when Wie reached the 18th tee tied for the lead on 16-under-par with Jenny Shin, Brooke Henderson, Danielle Kang and Nelly Korda. Playing two groups ahead of the leader flight, Wie came up short with her approach but made the snaking 45-footer to set the clubhouse target of 17-under-par.
Third round leader Korda and halfway pace-setter Kang both missed birdie putts to force a playoff, thus allowing Wie to end a long title drought dating back to the 2014 US Women’s Open.
“I think that has to be the best putt of my career so far! I knew I had to shoot low to have a chance. I’m just really proud of myself for making a lot of birdies and keep going, and never really getting out of my head,” said Wie.
“Winning is everything … there’s no better feeling than holing that winning putt. That’s what keep you going, what keeps you practising for hours and hours,” added the lanky Hawaiian.
The win put paid to memories of 2017 when she led the tournament after the first and third rounds, before fading on the last. Her bogey-free round of seven-under-par 65 saw her add her name to an illustrious list of champions that includes Lorena Ochoa, Ai Miyazato, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, and Inbee Park.
Speaking about the importance of the win after a four-year hiatus, Wie noted: “It’s been a tough journey since 2014. I think it’s been kind of well documented. You know, I’ve had some injuries, had a really bad year, just lost a lot of confidence. But I’m just really proud for pulling myself out of it. I felt like I had a good year last year, a year where I built confidence, and I just want to keep building confidence from there. I just want to keep rising. I just want to keep playing the best I can, trying the hardest I can and trying to become the best player that I can be.”
With the pressure mounting on day four, neither Korda nor Kang were able to repeat the kind of performances they had shown earlier in the week, carding rounds of one and two-under par respectively.
A visibly upset Korda was comforted by elder sister Jessica as she left the 18th. Speaking afterwards, she said: “I had a bunch of putts that were really close and a lot of them lipped and burned edges. It definitely hurts, but that’s golf.
“I just have to keep going forward. I definitely fought till the end but sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but I’m proud of myself for fighting till the end.”
The round of the day was carded by Korea’s Sei Young Kim who shot a course and tournament record of 10-under-par 62,one better than Angela Stanford and Caroline Mason.
Showing continuous improvement throughout the tournament was Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul. Her final round of six-under-par 66 saw her power her way into a joint eighth place with Stanford.
RESULTS (TOP 10 & TIES)
271 (-17) – Michelle Wie (USA) 67-73-66-65
272 (-16) – Jenny Shin (KOR) 71-68-68-65, Brooke Henderson (CAN) 68-72-65-67, Danielle Kang (USA) 68-64-70-70, Nelly Korda (USA) 70-66-65-71
273 (-15) – Jin Young Ko (KOR) 72-67-67-67, Minjee Lee (AUS) 71-66-68-68
275 (-13) – Angela Stanford (USA) 76-66-70-63, Atthaya Thitikul (A) (THA) 70-71-68-66
276 (-12) – Sei Young Kim (KOR) 70-72-72-62, Amy Yang (KOR) 74-68-70-64, Lydia Ko (NZL) 71-71-67-67, Jeong Eun Lee (KOR) 69-70-70-67, Jessica Korda (USA) 68-70-68-70