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Wie Wins on Home Turf


Michelle Wie consummated her recent fine performances with a victory in Hawaii, not far from where she grew up. The 24-year-old fired a stellar 5-under 67 to finish at 14-under 274 and win the LPGA Tour's LPGA LOTTE Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei on the island of Oahu.

Wie, who finished second two weeks ago to winner Lexi Thompson in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, overcame a four-shot, 54-hole deficit to Angela Stanford in the $1.7 million tournament, which had an unusual Wednesday start.

The 36-year-old Stanford, paired in the final group with Wie, closed with a 1-over 73 to end up two strokes back of her playing partner Saturday.

Wie was almost flawless in the last round, carding three birdies on the front nine and adding another three on the first seven holes of the home half. By then well in control, her bogey on the last didn't matter.

Wie's front-nine charge got her close to Stanford, who had two bogeys and a birdie on the outward half, before Wie's birdie run on the back nine, where Stanford had no answer, shooting an even-par 36 on the way to the house.

Stanford, a St Fort Worth native in search of her sixth LPGA title and first since the 2012 HSBC Women's Champions, ended up two strokes back.

Wie took the lead on the 13th hole with a birdie and never looked back, forging what turned out to be an insurmountable edge after tacking on another birdie at the 14th. "This is a dream come true for me," Wie said of garnering the third victory of her career and first pro title in the States. "The amount of love I felt this week was unbelievable."

Wie noted that playing on familiar turf was a big help. "I think being back home, I think just not putting pressure on myself, just feeling all the support from the people this week, and you know just being patient - I just had a blast this week," she told Golf Channel.

Wie added she was relaxed and enjoyed a sense of equanimity at a familiar place. "I'm just having fun out there," added the Honolulu native of her attitude. "I was out there and nervous. (But) every time I felt nervous out there, I was looking around, I felt there was no place I'd rather be."

Wie's other pro victories came in 2009 in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and the Canadian Women's Open, a year later. This win, almost four years after her second, was worth $255,000.

Especially memorable was playing in front of family and friends. "The highlight of this week was to come back home," Wie said. "There wasn't just one moment. From the first tee shot that I made to the last putt, the aloha that I felt from everyone was unbelievable."

Stanford, after starting with promising outings of 72, 64 and 67, felt off all day Saturday, "Today, just didn't make the putts that I've been making," the disappointed veteran said. "I wasn't hitting it great today. Just mis-clubbed a couple of times. Just didn't make good decisions."

No. 1-ranked Inbee Park tried her best to catch up to Wie and Stanford, carding five birdies through 15 holes. But the South Korean cooled off from there, posting pars the rest of the way for a 5-under 67 and solo third at 11-under 277.

Another shot back was Hyo-Joo Kim (71), while tied for fifth at 279 were fellow South Koreans Chella Choi and So Yeon Ryu. Japan's Haru Nomura and American Amy Anderson shared seventh at 281.

First-round co-leader Se Ri Pak, Katie Burnett, Cristie Kerr and Katherine Kir tied for ninth at 282.

For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.

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