It wasn’t the Sunday finish Michelle Wie had hoped for in the 70th U.S. Women’s Open.
Battling injuries, the defending champion entered Sunday’s final round six shots behind third-round leader Amy Yang. Limping between shots, Wie fought her way to an even-par 70 to finish at 2-under 278, in solo 11th place.
“It was definitely disappointing out there to not be 100 percent – not being able to fully give it a go today,” said Wie, who said her injury involves her “whole left leg.”
“I tried so hard, but there was nothing else I could do,” added Wie, who wore a brace on her left ankle during the round and had kinesio tape for support on her leg. “I gave it all I could. I have no regrets.”
Wie’s front nine Sunday included three bogeys and no birdies. She logged one more bogey on the 10th before trimming four shots from her score on the last six holes.
Wie started that back-nine rally with a birdie on 13 and then scored an eagle 2 on 16 when she rattled the flagstick on her tee shot with a 2-hybrid club. Wie converted the resulting 4-foot putt on the drivable 235-yard par 4.
“I told my caddie I was going to aim at the pin, and I hit it good,” she said. “That was probably the best [shot] I made all week.”
Also bothered by her left hip, Wie marched gingerly around the hilly Lancaster Country Club course. She made par on 17, before hammering her drive on 18. Staring down the final fairway, Wie stroked a 6-iron approach to 9 feet and converted the putt to cap her championship with a birdie.
“I went out there with the mindset that I wanted to make a charge out there,” she said. “It was tough to do. Needless to say, I’m just happy this round is over. It was definitely one of the toughest rounds I have ever played.”
When asked about the nature of her injuries, Wie didn’t volunteer details. She was unsure if she would withdraw from next week’s LPGA tournament in Toledo, Ohio. She does plan to see a doctor.
“I think I have to look into it further,” she said of her injuries. “It was getting a lot better and it just kind of went backwards this week. I want to have another look at it [and] see what my game plan is moving forward.”
Wie’s career game plan took a huge leap forward last year when she won her first major championship, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open in Pinehurst, N.C.
Wie was sidelined for most of August last year with an injury to her right index finger. She tried to come back at the Evian Championship – one of the LPGA’s majors – but was forced to withdraw during the opening round.
Hoping for a healthier 2015, Wie instead got off to a bumpy start. She struggled with other health issues, including strep throat and a sinus infection. Her left-hip injury flared up in mid-May at the LPGA’s Kingsmill Championship and she was forced to withdraw after one round.
The Women’s Open champion arrived in Pennsylvania this week hoping for her first top-10 finish of the year. But more importantly, she wanted to defend her title.
After the visibly disappointed Wie completed her media obligations Sunday afternoon, she moved slowly toward a number of waiting fans to sign autographs before hobbling off to her car.
When asked if it hurt more not to defend her Open crown or to be injured during championship week, Wie gave the question serious thought.
“It was fun defending and I’m really happy that I had an opportunity just to be in that position,” she said. “But I guess now I have to make another opportunity for myself.”
Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.