Michelle Wie’s victory could be a watershed moment

Michelle Wie

Michelle Wie

PINEHURST, N.C. — Michelle Wie’s first major championship will add a chapter to one of the most historic courses in the world, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Pinehurst No. 2 can now count her as a winner — a big prize to have, and one Pinehurst Resort certainly will take.

Wie finally came through in a big tournament, winning the U.S. Women’s Open, and that opens the door to several possibilities for her. At 24, she’s just entering her prime.

Her journey — from prodigy at 10, to a pro at 15, to Stanford graduate and now U.S. Open champion — wasn’t easy. Stacy Lewis, one of Wie’s friends and the Open runner-up, said it’s a path she wouldn’t want.

“I’m just glad I wasn’t her.” Lewis, the world’s No. 1-ranked women’s golfer, said Sunday. “That’s a long journey for a kid. It’s a lot for a kid to go through. She’s been through the ups and the downs, and going to college, I think, was the best thing she ever did.”

Lewis, 29, said that Wie has matured quite a bit since graduating from Stanford two years ago.

“She kind of became her own independent person,” Lewis said. “That’s what you’re seeing out there. You’re seeing her personality, she’s having fun, and she’s taken ownership of her game. So being her friend and watching her over the last few years, it’s a great thing to see.”

Wie has learned plenty over the years — and she’s not afraid to admit she needed to.

“I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to just really stay in the present and really try not to control everything,” she said. “I think growing up, I was kind of a control freak. I just wanted to control everything. Have the perfect swing. Have the perfect putting stroke. And if something wasn’t perfect, then I would start to freak out.”

Wie’s win, and the runner-up finish by Lewis, also continued a rise in American golf and gave the United States champions in this season’s first two majors — Lexi Thompson, a Florida native, won the Kraft Nabisco Championship. And Lewis is the defending champion of the Women’s British Open, which will be next month.

“I said coming into this week, we were due for an American to win,” Lewis said. “When I first walked out here and saw all the people with (Wie’s) group, I thought something special would happen.”

Although disappointed she didn’t get into a playoff with Wie, Lewis was happy for one of her friends.

“She’s been working so hard and she’s a friend of mine,” Lewis said. “And to see just how far she’s come … even over just the last year, how much better she’s playing and more confident she is as a person … I’m just so happy for her.”

Wie is a student of golf history and knows the significance of a win at Pinehurst No. 2, which staged the Women’s Open for the first time.

“I think the course is spectacular,” she said. “I think winning on the same golf course that Payne Stewart won on means so much to me, as well. (There is) just so much history to this golf course — and just the fact that I can be part of that history, it’s just so cool.

“I feel so honored to be part of that history.”