Hawaii’s champion

Some of us have been rooting for Michelle Wie for over a decade.

Her victory Sunday in the U.S. Women’s Open was a win for the ages. Wie overcame bad breaks, a hard golf course and tenacious opponents to claim the most prestigious tournament in women’s golf.

Residents of Hawaii have known Wie as a golf phenom since her pre-teen years. Only 24 now, she has been a serious factor in tournaments for some 11 years. We first saw her in person at the 2004 Senior Skins Game Pro-Am at the Wailea Gold Golf Course. That day she played in a group with Jack Nicklaus and impressed the golfing legend.

But Wie – and her family – faced criticism for the way her career was managed and progressed. In particular, there was harsh criticism of the decision to try to compete against men on the PGA Tour before she had even notched her first victory on the LPGA Tour.

The criticism took its toll and Wie had not played very consistently the past couple of years.

It is apparent now, though, that one very smart decision was made. Wie went to Stanford and earned a degree in communications. She emerged from that experience as a very confident woman who appears secure in her personal life. That confidence has now begun to reflect itself in her golf game.

The weakest part of Wie’s game the past couple of years has been her putting. She decided to adopt her own method – one where she is very bent over with her eyes right over the ball. She was immediately criticized and belittled.

Undeterred, Wie stayed with the “table-top” stance she invented – and the ball started going into the hole. She has been a fixture on leaderboards this whole season.

On Sunday, a confident Wie knocked in a 25-foot downhill breaking putt on the next-to-last hole of the U.S. Women’s Open to give herself a two-stroke lead. She calmly parred the last hole and the trophy was hers.

Michelle Wie still comes across as a humble, nice person. She works hard. She signs autographs endlessly. She smiles as she plays golf. She is a wonderful role model.

She has emerged from the struggles of the last decade to be a great champion. Congratulations.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.