LPGA LOTTE Championship: Michelle Wie storms back for victory


KAPOLEI, Oahu — Michelle Wie rallied from four strokes back entering the day to shoot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and win the LPGA LOTTE Championship.

The 24-year-old American finished at 14-under 274 after coming into the final round trailing third-round leader Angela Stanford by four shots after Friday’s play. It was Wie’s third career victory on the LPGA Tour, and first since taking the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2010.

And, Wie did it at home.

“I’m just having fun out there,” said Wie, who grew up in Honolulu. “I was out there and nervous. Every time I felt nervous out there, I was looking around, I felt there was no place I’d rather be.”

Stanford had her worst round of the tournament, shooting a 1-over 73 that put her at 12-under 276 and two shots behind Wie. Top-ranked Inbee Park finished third with an 11-under 277.

“Today, just didn’t make the putts that I’ve been making,” Stanford said. “I wasn’t hitting it great today. Just mis-clubbed a couple of times. Just didn’t make good decisions.”

Wie came to LOTTE and her home state of Hawaii coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago in the Kraft Nabisco Championship when she closed with a 71 for her best position of the season.

“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, the leader after the second and third rounds at breezy Ko Olina, came out strong with a birdie on the par-4 third hole to set herself up at 14-under early in the day. A bogey for Stanford and a birdie for Wie on the par-4 sixth closed the gap to within a stroke.

The par-3 eighth brought Stanford, Wie and South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim to tie at 12 under.

A birdie for Wie on the par-3 12th gave her the outright lead, and she gave a small triumphant fist pump to the crowd. Another birdie on the par-5 13th put Wie two strokes ahead of two-day leader Stanford and three strokes ahead of Kim.

Stanford and Kim were unable to close that gap.

“She’s been playing great,” Stanford said. “She’s having a great year, so it was bound to happen. I just happened to be the one that caught the buzz saw.”

Trade winds continued to challenge golfers all day, gusting upward of 20 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

“Well, my caddy isn’t one for pep talks, but he gave a good one today,” Wie said. “He said, ‘It’s windy out there today, but play your game,’ and that’s really what I did. I didn’t try to force anything. I had a number in my head that I thought I needed to shoot, and I got it.”

PGA TOUR

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Luke Donald shot a 66 to take a two-stroke lead over John Huh after three rounds of the RBC Heritage on Saturday.

Donald has done just about everything on Harbour Town Golf Links the past five years — except win. He lost in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker here in 2011, part of a run of four top-three finishes since 2009. Donald had an eagle and six birdies to finish at 8-under 205 and carry the lead into Sunday here for the second time in that stretch.

Huh shot a 68 and was at 6 under.

Major champions Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jim Furyk (71), Nicholas Thompson (68) and Ben Martin (71) were tied for third at 5 under.

Matt Kuchar, ranked sixth in the world, shot 70 as part of a group of five golfers another shot back at 4 under.

Donald’s performance capped a long day at soggy Harbour Town, where 65 golfers had to finish the second round before the third could begin with K.J. Choi, Furyk and Ben Martin tied for the lead.

But by midafternoon, the moisture had softened things up and competitors were treated to slick greens easily accepting approach shots.

At times, it looked more like a local club shootout than a PGA Tour stop.

EUROPEAN TOUR

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Lee Westwood saw his four-shot lead trimmed to just one Saturday after a bogey at the final hole of the third round of the Malaysian Open.

Westwood shot a 1-under 71 for a three-round total of 14-under 202, but is only one shot ahead of English compatriot Andy Sullivan, who had a 66 as he chases his first tour title. Frenchman Julien Quesne is another three shots back in third place after a 69.

Westwood, who turns 41 next week, won the Malaysian Open in 1997 and is looking for a repeat to end a near two-year winless drought. For a third day in a row he birdied the opening hole of the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club course before dropping a shot with a three-putt bogey at the second.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

DULUTH, Ga. — Fun-loving Miguel Angel Jimenez might turn the Champions Tour into his personal cigar-and-wine club. Ever-serious Bernhard Langer keeps churning out sub-par rounds. Bad back and all, Fred Couples is thriving in the wind and cold rain.

It makes for an enticing last group in Sunday’s final round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship.

Jimenez, continuing his impressive tour debut, shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and leads by one stroke after two days at TPC Sugarloaf.

Langer and Couples each had a 68 in the second round. Langer is one stroke back of Jimenez and Couples is two back, setting up Sunday’s all-star final group.

By wire sources