Michelle Wie Finally Living Up To Hype

Michelle Wie has always been precocious. At age 10, she became the youngest person to qualify for a USGA amateur championship. At 13, she could already out-drive most of the men on the PGA Tour. She turned pro right before her 16th birthday, at an age when most kids are applying for their driver’s license or studying for their PSATs. And while only a senior in high school, she was labeled by Time magazine as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World.” For a time, Michelle Wie was the biggest thing in golf this side of Tiger Woods.

But for all her accolades, there’s one thing she hasn’t done much: win. Her professional career to this point has been, well, underwhelming—mostly flash and little substance. In fact, Wie entered this week’s CN Canadian Women’s Open with just one career victory on her resume, at the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational. On Sunday in Calgary, however, she doubled that win tally with a rock-solid performance that capped an impressive week for the 20-year-old phenom.

Wie did it with both aplomb (carding a hole-in-one on the first day) and composure (three straight birdies on the back nine of the final round) in shooting 12-under for the tournament to edge Korea’s Ji-yai Shin for her second LPGA Tour win.

Wie grabbed the lead on Thursday with an opening-round 65 and never looked back. Sunday marked the fifth time in her career that she had entered the final round of a tournament holding at least a share of the lead. Of the previous four times, however, she had only converted once, often faltering when the pressure mounted. Not this time. Wie entered the day tied with Shin for the lead at 9-under, but she soon separated herself with three birdies on the front nine, and continued her steady play to keep clear of the rest of the field. The win propels her to seventh in the newest world rankings.

Her career will likely always be tethered to the enormous expectations spawned by her early success. But for Michelle Wie—the once and future queen of professional golf—that future is now. While she can live comfortably by coasting on her hype and marketing image, she can just as well bear down and embrace the substance of who she really is—which, it turns out, is a pretty damn good golfer.


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