Wie nabs 1st LPGA title of her career, Shin comes in 3rd
After four years trying, Michelle Wie won her first LPGA Tour Title yesterday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The American golfer finished two shots ahead of Paula Creamer by completing the day with three-under par 69. She started the final day of competition tied for the lead with fellow American Cristie Kerr but distanced herself with a strong final round and completed the tourney with a 13-under par total of 275. Creamer came in second with 70 on the day and a 277 total and three golfers tied for third at 278: Shin Ji-yai, Kerr and Morgan Pressel.
“I am excited about the win. I need to work on different areas of my game but I feel great at the moment,” Wie told the press after her win.
The 20 year old turned pro four years ago after claiming the U.S. Female Amateur Public Links Championship in 2003 as the youngest golfer. Although Wie entered the pro ranks with high expectations, she did not focus on the LPGA Tour and attempted to compete on the men’s circuit. After suffering from a nagging wrist injury, Wie earned her LPGA Tour card in qualifying school in December.
“If I had to evaluate the year at this point, I would have to say it was a fantastic year. I went through many ups and downs but I learned a lot. Participating in the Solheim Cup, competing in every LPGA Tour event and getting to know other golfers on the tour was a big help and a lot of fun,” Wie said.
Meanwhile, Korean golfer Shin finished third overall, earning $65,936 at the event, keeping her on top of the LPGA Tour’s money list this season.
With the season finale Tour Championship remaining on the current schedule, Shin leads with $1.77 million and Kerr is next in line with $1.49 million.
Even if Kerr wins the final event of the season, she does not have a shot at overtaking Shin on the top of the earner’s list.
“My goal coming into the season was to win the Rookie of the Year honor. Since I have achieved my goal for the season, I will consider other possible awards as a bonus,” Shin told the press after the match. “I will try my very best until the end of the season.”
Shin is the first Korean to achieve this feat. Competing in her first LPGA Tour season, the 21 year old was awarded top rookie honors earlier this month after winning three events on the tour this year. The only other Asian female golfer to have topped the money list was Ayako Okamoto of Japan in 1978. Okamoto won four tourneys that year and became the first Asian to win the LPGA Player of the Year award.
Shin began attracting attention on the tour last season when she won three events - the Women’s British Open, Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship - as a non-tour member.
Shin is currently a strong candidate for the Player of the Year honor along with Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.
The only other player to have won the top rookie honor, Player of the Year and be the top money earner in one season was American Nancy Lopez in 1987.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]