By capturing her first major championship at Pinehurst, Michelle Wie emphatically closed Golf’s historic first fortnight
Fifteen years ago, Payne Stewart settled over a crucial putt on the par-3 17th hole at Pinehurst No. 2, a U.S. Open championship in the balance. Stewart and Phil Mickelson were tied for the 1999 Open lead through 70 holes, with Mickelson striking his approach on 17 to 6 feet and Stewart nailing his to 4 feet. Mickelson’s putt slid past the hole and Stewart poured his into the heart of the cup, taking a one-shot lead that he preserved with his much-memorialized par on the final hole.
“It was a gimme,” caddie Mike Hicks said of the fateful birdie on 17. “Payne hadn’t missed inside 4 feet all week.”
Now it was Michelle Wie’s turn to make history on the 161-yard hole, her 8-iron nestling down 25 feet above and to the right of the front-left hole location. Wie had just double-bogeyed the 16th hole, letting a seemingly comfortable three-shot lead in the U.S. Women’s Open over Stacy Lewis shrink to a single shot. Lewis was now hitting balls on the practice range in the event of a playoff, and Wie settled into her unique table-top putting stance, where her upper torso is at 90 degrees to her long legs, the better to let her see the correct line from a head position nearer the ground.
If the 6 on 16 was giving her the shakes and sweats, she wasn’t letting on.
“I laughed it off,” she said. “Stuff like that does happen.”