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GOLF ROUNDUP: Wie wins first major championship

by The Associated Press on June 23, 2014 10:20 AM

Michelle Wie followed Martin Kaymer to victory at Pinehurst No. 2.

First literally, then figuratively.

When Kaymer made his leisurely stroll up the 18th fairway seven days earlier on his way to sealing the U.S. Open, Wie walked right along with his pairing as a spectator.

“I thought to myself, I want to be here on Sunday,” Wie said. “I want to feel this exact thing.”

A week later, she did.

And now Kaymer and Wie will be forever linked as the champions of Pinehurst’s first-of-its-kind double-dip of U.S. Opens.

Wie’s two-stroke victory over top-ranked Stacy Lewis on Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open came with a little more stress than Kaymer’s nine-shot romp — especially after Wie’s double bogey on the 16th.

But her long birdie putt a hole later effectively locked it up, and turned her walk up the final fairway into something to savor.

“I walked (the previous) Sunday with Rickie (Fowler) and Martin. I wanted so badly to be in that position, just to kind of have a leisurely walk up to 18 and make a par to win kind of thing,” Wie said. “And I feel so lucky. ... It felt so special. I kind of wish I could do it over and over again, it’s just so much fun.”

This was the big victory the sport had been waiting for — maybe even needed.

“I don’t think you can script it any better,” Lewis said. “I think it’s great for the game of golf. I think it’s even better for women’s golf. ... This has been such a long time coming for her.”

No longer is Wie that precocious pre-teen prodigy who qualified for her first pro event as a 12-year-old and competed against the men on the PGA Tour.

Now, she’s all grown up, with four career victories on her resume. She’s No. 1 on the LPGA’s money list, the tour’s biggest star.

And she finally has a major trophy to go with it all.

“U.S. Opens have been such a special part of my life, just because I get to see everyone again,” Wie said. “It’s like seeing old family and friends. But, yeah, just everything kind of what I’ve been through, all the ups and all the downs, this is definitely, it’s all worth it.”

A win that seemed a certainty for most of the day — she took sole possession of the lead after her second hole — came into doubt for a while on the 16th.

With a three-stroke lead, she hit a hybrid from a fairway bunker that wound up in a wiregrass bush. That led her to take a penalty drop behind her in the fairway and led to what she said was “a tinge of panic.”

She chipped on to about 35 feet, then pushed her bogey putt 5 feet past the hole.

A miss would have left her tied with Lewis.

“It was pretty scary. I gave myself a nice heart attack,” Wie said. “I think I aged about 10 years in a span of 15 minutes there.”

She made it.

And on the next hole, she locked up the victory.

Wie plopped her 8-iron safely onto the 17th green and sank the birdie putt that restored her two-stroke lead, punctuating it with a fist pump.

Unlike the day before — when a four-shot lead slipped away — there would be no collapse for Wie.

Lewis, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, kept the pressure on by making eight birdies during a 66 that matched the best round of the tournament.

She was on the practice range preparing for a playoff when her caddie told her that Wie made the putt on 17.

“I thought with the pressure of a major and the way this golf course played, I thought I had a chance,” Lewis said.

Wie began the day tied with Amy Yang at 2-under. But once she claimed sole possession of the lead — on Yang’s double bogey on the second hole — she never let go of it.

Wie reeled off eight straight pars before an eagle on the par-5 10th gave her some breathing room — which, it turned out, came in handy after her struggles on 16.

Wie — who finished at 2-under 278 — was the only player to wind up under par this week, the last in an unprecedented, two-week test of the Donald Ross-designed masterpiece of a course in the North Carolina sandhills.

“If you let me write a script about how I would dream it to go, that’s how it went,” said Dan Burton, the chair of the USGA’s championship committee. “Just an absolutely wonderful two weeks, great golf. I think we achieved every objective we could have possibly set out to enumerate.”

 

PGA: Kevin Streelman birdied the last seven holes to win the Travelers Championship by a stroke at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

Streelman shot his second straight 6-under 64 to finish at 15-under 265. He broke the tour record for consecutive closing birdies by a winner of six set by Mike Souchak in the 1956 St. Paul Open.

Streelman, 35, also won the Tampa Bay Championship last season. He missed the cuts in his previous four starts on tour.

Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi tied for second. They each shot 67.

Aaron Baddeley was fourth at 13 under after a 69.

 

CHAMPIONS: Tom Lehman made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Champions Tour’s Encompass Championship in Glenview, Ill.

The 55-year-old Lehman closed with a 2-under 70 at North Shore and had a 15-under 201 total for his eighth senior title and first since 2012. He rebounded from bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 — his only dropped strokes of the week — with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, parred the par-3 17th and won on the par-4 18th.

Michael Allen and Kirk Triplett tied for second, a stroke back. Allen shot 67, and Triplett had a 68.

Lehman, the 1996 British Open winner, opened with rounds of 65 and 66 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round.

He ended a 27-event victory drought.

 

PGA EUROPEAN: Finland’s Mikko Ilonen completed a wire-to-wire victory in the Irish Open, shooting a 1-under 70 to beat Italy’s Edoardo Molinari by a stroke.

Ilonen finished at 13-under 271 at Fota Island. He has four victories in 300 career European Tour starts.

Molinari closed with a 67. England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, the U.S. Amateur champion, had a 68 to tie for 29th at 5 under in his pro debut.

 

WEB.COM: Monday qualifier Sebastian Cappelen won the Air Capital Classic for his first Web.com Tour title, finishing with a 4-under 66 for a one-stroke victory over Matt Weibring in Wichita, Kan.

Cappelen, from Denmark, had an 18-under 262 total after opening with rounds of 66, 65 and 65 at Crestview Country Club. The 24-year-old former University of Arkansas player earned $108,000.

Cappelen is the 21st Monday qualifier to win a Web.com Tour event and the first since 2011.

Weibring shot a 64.

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