Singapore: Michelle Wie gave the galleries at Sentosa Golf Club a finish to remember, securing victory in the US$1.5 million HSBC Women’s World Championship and taking the winner’s cheque of US$225,000 with a 45-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
The win put paid to memories of 2017 when she led the tournament after the first and third rounds, before fading on the last day.
Her bogey-free round of seven-under-par 65 saw her add her name to a list of champions that includes some of the greats of the game, including Lorena Ochoa, Ai Miyazato, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer and Park In-bee.
Teeing-off in the penultimate flight of the day, and four shots behind overnight leader Nelly Korda, the Hawaiian maintained pressure on the leaders with birdies at the second, fourth, eighth, 10th, 13th and 14th before producing the shot of the tournament on the last, to take the outright lead.
It looked as though Korda, playing in the last flight of the day, would force a play-off with her superb approach to the 18th leaving her with a five-foot birdie putt. But it wasn’t to be.
Speaking about her fifth win on Tour, Wie said: “I just wanted to get revenge after last year a little bit. I kind of came with a slight chip on my shoulder in the morning, and I knew that I had to shoot low to even have a chance, and everyone played great today.
“I’m just really proud of myself for making a lot of birdies and keeping going. My caddie did a great job of keeping me in the game and keeping me entertained throughout the round. It was a lot of fun today.”
Speaking about the importance of the win after a four-year hiatus, she added: “It’s been a tough journey since 2014. I think it’s been well documented. I’ve had some injuries, had a really bad year, just lost a lot of confidence. I’m just really proud for pulling myself out of it.
“I felt like I had a good year last year, a year where I built confidence, and I just want to keep building confidence from there. I just want to keep rising. I just want to keep playing the best I can, trying the hardest I can and trying to become the best player that I can be.”
With the pressure mounting on day four, neither Korda nor round-two leader Danielle Kang were able to repeat the kind of performances they had shown earlier in the week, carding rounds of one and two-under respectively.
A visibly upset Korda was comforted by elder sister Jessica as she left the 18th. She said: “I had a bunch of putts that were really close and a lot of them lipped and burned edges. It definitely hurts, but that’s golf. There’s going to be another tournament. There’s going to be another feeling like this. I just have to keep going forward. I fought till the end but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”
Brooke Henderson‘s birdie on 18 saw her take a share of second, alongside Korda, Kang and Jenny Shin, whose seven-under-par saw her climb from over overnight ninth place. The Korean’s birdie on 16 briefly gave her the outright lead, before a bogey on 18 dashed her hopes.
The round of the day went to Korea’s Kim Sei-young who shot a course and tournament record of 10-under-par – one better than Angela Stanford and Caroline Mason‘s nine-under-par 63.
Showing continuous improvement throughout the tournament was Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul. Her final round of six-under 66 saw her power her way into the top-10. Joining the tournament on the back of her Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship win last week, the 15-year-old finished tied in eighth place and ahead of her heroes Ariya Jutanugarn and Ryu So-yeon.
“Once again, HSBC and Singapore delivered in a huge way,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “We enjoyed a battle that went right to the end and included some of the biggest names in the sport. What a week, what a finish and what a wonderful display of golf by the world’s best.”
Guy Kinnings, Senior Vice President & Chairman, Golf, IMG, the tournament’s promoter, added: “What a fantastic week we’ve had here at Sentosa Golf Club where we’ve witnessed one of the most exciting finishes in the tournament’s history.
“I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to our sponsors and tournament partners. Firstly, to HSBC whose sponsorship of this tournament continues to raise the bar in how golf tournaments are presented around the world. I’d like to thank Sentosa Golf Club for again providing a first-rate championship course, combined with the very best practice, clubhouse and spectator facilities; and to all our supporting partners, without whose support we would not be able to stage an event of this scale.”
Sentosa Golf Club is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.