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Stats and Stuff: Wie’s win a case in studying, putting confidence

Michelle Wie
Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Michelle Wie of the United States hits her tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the 69th U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

June 24 2014, Ward Clayton

Michelle Wie was the symbol for the successful consecutive weeks of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Wie’s first major championship title came last Sunday in the Sandhills of North Carolina and completed a week where she scouted the men playing the Donald Ross design, used their extensive notes to her benefit and then hung tough down the stretch to capture the title.

On Sunday, June 15 – Father’s Day – she walked inside the ropes with the final group of the day, men’s champion Martin Kaymer and Rickie Fowler, as they finished the tournament. 

“I thought this would be really cool if it was me,” Wie said. “I was walking with (Jessica) Korda and we were kind of walking up 18, and I told Korda, ‘Look to your left. Those people in the stands.’ It was unbelievable. We both got goose bumps. I thought to myself, ‘I want to be here on Sunday. I want to feel this exact thing.’ It's a dream come true that it actually happened. I feel extremely lucky.”

Cut to the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Prior to her early afternoon tee time, Wie talked with former U.S. Women’s Open champion Meg Mallon and with former PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, who sent a couple clips of his aunt, Pat Bradley, winning the tournament. She also studied yardage books that Bradley, Fowler and their caddies passed along prior to the Women’s Open.

“I don't think I've ever spent this much time on the yardage book as I did,” Wie said. “I think without those books I would kind of be a little bit lost, and I would have had to have figured it out more for myself. But it was kind of a cheat sheet. They wrote a lot of notes for me. It was helpful they played last week.

“I spent almost two hours this morning working on my yardage book, where to leave it, where to land it. And it was awesome that I did it. I was telling (caddie) Duncan (French) that I probably need to do that more often.”

Wie’s often-criticized putting stroke – with a pronounced bend at the waist – also completed the day for her. She didn’t three-putt all week, finished 10th in putting (119 putts for the week) and canned a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17 – “one of the best putts I’ve ever hit in my life,” she said – to virtually seal the win.

“I think that the ball is coming off the putter face a lot more consistently than it has before,” Wie said. “I practice a lot of lag putting. I practice putting a lot. I practiced an average of two hours last week. I was trying to feel comfortable out there. I was trying to make it a habit, just trying to make it routine.”

Wie moved to seventh in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings with the win and led the field with only 10 scores of bogey or worse during the week.

Double comparison
In reflection on the double week of men and women playing a U.S. Open at one site for the first time, here’s a comparison:

Kaymer vs. Wie statistically
Category Kaymer (Rank) Men’s Leader  Wie (Rank) Women’s Leader
Fairways Hit  43 (T9) Brendon De Jonge, 49  39 (T48)  Rikako Morita, 50 
Greens in Regulation 45 (T18) Henrik Stenson, 54 50 (T5) Stacy Lewis, 54
Birdies 16 (1) Kaymer, 16 12 (T9) Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, 16
Putts 110 (3) Justin Leonard, 106 119 (T10) Cindy Feng, 110
Driving Distance  305.5 (7)  Nicholas Lindheim, 318.8 258.9 (10) Brittany Lincicome, 288.3

Pinehurst No. 2 Comparison
Category   Men  Women
Greens in Regulation  57% 55%
Hardest Hole 6 (3.374) 8 (4.5088)
Easiest Hole 5 (4.8) 5 (4.896)
Low Score 65 66
Cut  5-over 9-over
Stroke average 73.08 74.61
Fairways Hit  70% 73%
Eagles 22 25
Birdies 959 931
Double bogeys-plus 251 391

Lewis goes back to Arkansas
Stacy Lewis returns home this week to Arkansas, coming off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Women’s Open, for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Lewis is from Texas but played collegiately at the University of Arkansas. She made her debut at Pinnacle Country Club in 2007 when she was a senior on the Lady Razorbacks’ golf team. She shot a first-round 65 to take the lead, then massive rains forced the tournament to become an 18-hole event, with Lewis declared the unofficial winner. In six starts at Pinnacle, Lewis has recorded 10 rounds in the 60s and had a best “official” finish of tie for fourth last year when Inbee Park won.

Lewis has two victories and 12 top-10 finishes this season and leads the LPGA’s Race for the CME Globe and in Scoring Average (69.073). Wie’s $720,000 first-place payday at Pinehurst leapfrogged her over Lewis in earnings ($1,588,465 for Wie, $1,581,227 for Lewis).

Nine of the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are in the field this week, including Wie. Only Karrie Webb is not playing this week in the 54-hole tournament that begins on Friday.

Two other Walmart NW Arkansas Championship notes: An American has never won the tournament, and the event falls between two majors, the U.S. Women’s Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open July 10-13.

With her T-15 finish, Paula Creamer has finished in the top 20 in 11 consecutive U.S. Women’s Opens. That includes a win in 2010. … Ai Miyazato and her older brother Koyoshi made history at Pinehurst. They became the seventh brother-sister combination to play in the same year’s U.S. Open, but the first at the same course. Both missed the cut (Ai at 159 and Kiyoshi at 162). … Stephanie Meadow, who finished third in her professional debut at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open, has spent nearly as much time in the United States as her Northern Ireland home. She moved to Hilton Head, S.C., at age 14 and recently finished her collegiate career at the University of Alabama. … Four LPGA players are competing in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic which ends today. Juli Inkster and Morgan Pressel make up one team, while Lexi Thompson (playing with Billy Horschel) and Suzann Pettersen (playing with Jonas Blixt) are also in the field for the 36-hole event at Rhode Island Country Club.

Topics: US Women's Open, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Stats and Stuff

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