They were expecting Nelly Korda or Danielle Kang or Brooke Henderson or perhaps Jenny Shin to step into the winner’s circle Sunday afternoon in Singapore.
After all, they were the contenders with Kang the 54-hole leader at the Sentosa Golf Club.
No one expected Michelle Wie to show at this HSBC Champions party. She started the final 18 a whopping five shots behind Kang, no this wouldn’t be Wie’s tournament.
But in the end it sure was and what an ending.
Wie went on a day-long birdie binge and had seven of them on her scorecard, no bogeys, a great round when she stood over a 36-foot birdie putt from the front fringe at the 18th. She needed it to get to 17-under, a number that would prove good enough to win. She did the improbable, holed it and the crowd roared.
That putt put an end to a long victory drought. She hadn’t won since the 2014 U.S. Open. She’s come close but has battled a constant menu of aches, pains and assorted injuries.
But that putt put an end to all that.
“I think that has to be the best putt of my career so far,” Wie declared as she took the victory by a shot over Kang, Korda, Henderson and Shin.
“It’s been a tough journey since 2014,” Wie said. “It’s been kind of well documented. I’ve had some injuries, had a really bad year, just lost a lot of confidence. I’m just really proud of myself for pulling myself out of it.”
After Wie posted 17-under, she had to sweat it out as Kang and Korda had makeable birdie putts at the last hole. Kang missed from 20 feet then Korda lost an eight-footer on the low side to assure Wie’s victory.
“It was crazy,” Wie said as she accepted the winner’s trophy. “I don’t know what’s going on right now. I’m so proud of me, my caddie and my entire team. HSBC always has a world-class event. This means a lot to me.”
The win was also big for the LPGA. Although she’s now 28, Wie still remains one of the most popular players on the planet and still drives the needle up in women’s golf.