With Michelle Wie's US Open win, a former prodigy becomes a champion

June 23, 2014 

Some worried that having the women’s U.S. Open follow the men’s at Pinehurst might be anti-climatic – they would be No. 2 on No. 2 – but the outcome was the reverse.

The men’s U.S. Open effectively ended on day two when Martin Kaymer carded a second straight 65, set a U.S. Open 36-hole scoring record and put the field too far behind to catch him. But the women’s Open featured a pair of stars, Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie, battling to the end and it produced a champion who achieved not only victory but vindication.

With the win, Wie shook off the increasingly heavy tag of being a might-have-been and took on the mantle of a major champion who could win many times over.

The graceful, long-hitting Wie finally lived up to the potential that shriveled during her early years under the media’s glare. She was a prodigy at 10 when she became the youngest player to qualify for a USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She turned professional at 16. The Hawaii native was so good so young there was speculation that she might be the first woman to play on the men’s tour. She did play in men’s events, but fared poorly.

Despite her celebrated start, she failed to flourish. Injuries and the pressure of living up to the early hype weighed on her. But on Sunday, at 24, Wie became a major champion on a storied course. No longer a prodigy, she nonetheless seemed young again, a golfer of the future not the past. She won by escaping the phenom others proclaimed and accepting who she is, a fine golfer who perseveres.

“I think the kind of the troubles that I came into when I was younger is that I tried to plan my life,” Wie said. “And a lot of times, things don’t happen the way they should, or the way they should in my mind. So I’m just kind of going out there living it day by day.”

Wie’s win offers a lesson in how to cope and how to prevail.

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