A historic U.S. Women’s Open — Michelle Wie West’s farewell…for now — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, June 9, 2022
Happy Golf Thursday and belated Women’s Golf Day! I spent the special occasion on the course from 8am until 5pm running around with 14 junior golfers…this is the life as a golf instructor in the summer time and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Now onto this week’s topic: last week’s U.S. Women’s Open (USWO). It was championship golf at its finest with so many storylines to dissect. That being said, after last week in Southern Pines, I have a strong feeling that women’s golf is headed towards a brighter (and greener) future so let’s get into the nitty gritty.
The winner, the runner and the MONEY
Minjee Lee, the 26-year-old Aussie, is your new USWO champion — but she has more than just a new trophy to add. Her brother Min Woo, who plays on the PGA Tour, tweeted this just moments after her putt on 18:
Lee shot a beyond impressive four-day total of 271 (13 under par). She closed Sunday’s round with an even-par 71 after firing 67, 66, 67. The Australian flirted with the tournament record of 16 under set by Juli Inkster in 1999 at Old Waverly. This also makes her the first Aussie since Kerrie Webb in 2001 to win the USWO!
Her record-breaking performance earned her a record-breaking paycheck of $1.8 million — making it the highest payout in women’s golf history. Yes, you read that right. No one on the LPGA tour has made over $1 million this season. Jennifer Kupcho, the winner of this year’s first major, was on top of the money earning list after her victory in Mission Hills, where she earned $750,000.
“We’re only moving in the right direction,” Lee said after walking off 18. “I think it’s only going to get better and better from here. It’s such a large sum, and I’m really honored to be the first winner I guess of this sum. We’re only going to get better and better.”
The jump to seven figures doesn’t end at one spot though. Runner up Mina Harigae took home a record $1 million, the highest payout for second place in women’s golf history. Mina’s story was one that I followed closely last week, especially when she showed up to round two with Dior Jordan’s on.
Great taste in sneakers aside, Harigae is a fighter. Prior to the pandemic, she’d missed seven cuts in a row to end 2019, and she had to go back to Q school just to keep her card. But COVID shut the world down and left her scrambling to pay her bills. She played her ass off all week long and forced Lee to bring it. I’m happy that Mina is now in a position to capitalize on her earnings and let the golf speak for itself without the financial burden get in her way.
If you’re curious, Golfweek broke down of the $10 million total purse.
Another big time story this week included some of our favorite college and high school players who qualified. 31 total amateurs were in the field, including Rose Zhang of Stanford, Ingrid Lindblad of LSU, and ANWA winner Anna Davis — and boy did they show OUT.
Anna Davis is quickly becoming a household name and fan favorite with her bucket hats and cool demeanor. It was upsetting that she missed the cut, but she’s a young player with so much incredible talent that I have no doubt that she’ll find herself in weekend contention one day soon.
Top ranked amateur Rose Zhang made it to the weekend tied for 40th. After a dazzling first year at Stanford, Zhang can add another notch to her already impressive belt.
Making seven birdies in a round is impressive. Making seven birdies and carding a 65 is impressive. Making seven birdies, carding a 65, and doing so in the first round of a major tournaments playing alongside arguably the greatest women’s golfer ever…is just ice freaking cold. Ingrid Lindblad was the low amateur at the USWO and she blew me away. I wasn’t the only one impressed by her skill, Annika Sorenstam had this to say about her playing partner and fellow Swede, “she’s a fearless player,” said Sorenstam, who shot a 74 in Round 1. “I think she’s confident in her own game. I know she doesn’t shy away from the limelight that maybe I did as a young girl.”
Michelle Wie West has been one of the biggest names in golf since she was 10-years-old. I couldn’t have articulated what she has done for women’s golf any better than this tweet did, so I’ll let it speak for itself.
Another crowd favorite was the GOAT, Annika Sorenstam, who like Michelle, also missed the cut but as fans we are just happy to see the players we adore.
Both of these women have contributed their lives to reshaping the women’s golf landscape. They know their names carry weight and they know that if they play, people will show up, that grants exposure for young players like an Ingrid Lindblad.
They know their influence, and they use it!
Health and wellness over everything
Just when we get Nelly Korda back after a near three-month hiatus due to a blood clot in her arm, Danielle Kang announced that she has a tumor on her spine.
Danielle battled through four rounds in Southern Pines after she received a lot of backlash from pulling out of previous events for injuries earlier in the season.
We don’t know much about what’s going on, and honestly I’m okay with that. This is her health, and she deserves to get the best care in private, and share whatever information she wants when she’s ready. All we can do is hope that she will be okay and that we will see her on the course in the near future.
Women in Turf
Lastly, women in golf goes beyond just playing or coaching. There’s a community of women dedicated to taking care of the ground we hold so sacred. These women set a beautiful stage for magic to happen.
Former LPGA commissioner, and now CEO of the United States Golf Associate (USGA), Mike Whan has been one of the largest advocates and reformers of women’s golf. He’s been leading the charge for over a decade now and I loved how he took a moment to allow the superintendents to soak up their work and enjoy the praise that they made Pine Needles look incredible.
Each of these major moments (pun intended) from the USWO play a role in the new age of women’s golf. The blending of past, present, and future is happening right before our eyes. Our golf legends can’t live forever, but their careers, their legacies, and what they have done for women’s golf will. There is no Ingrid Lindblad without Annika Sorenstam, there is no Rose Zhang without Michelle Wie West, there wouldn’t have been a Michelle Wie without Annika, and there sure as hell wouldn’t have been any of these remarkable women without the 13 that started it all. Comparisons are forming, history is being made and I think we are on the brink of watching women’s golf becoming everything we have been hoping it’d be.
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”— Warren Buffett
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
The latest edition of LPGA.com’s ‘Drive On’ series features current LPGA professional and former player and caddie on both the LPGA and Epson Tours Meaghan Francella, and her fight to pursue professional golf but also her mother’s fight against cancer. The full story is beautiful and is an absolute MUST read.
Riding the momentum from last week’s second major championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Tour returns to Galloway, N.J. for the 34th edition of the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer!
I’ve reported on the LET Aramco Series in previous weeks and I think this is worth looking into. As a “journalist”, it is a part of my job to keep you all informed as I gain new information on what’s impacting the world of golf. This tweet caught my attention…
I then read the ELLE Magazine article that was linked and it broke my heart and opened my eyes to an issue that I wasn’t aware of, and now I want to place it on your radar. Read it, comprehend it, and then read it again, and then share it with people in your circle. Let’s not ignore the ill-treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.
In other LET news…this week’s event is another mixed-event (you know I’m a big fan), The Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, co-sanctioned event between the LET and DP World Tour. It sees 78 men and 78 women playing for the same prize fund of US $2 million and one trophy. It’s hosted by Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson, who were both inducted into the Swedish Golf Hall of Fame.
Epson Tour News
Curtis Cup Week at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania…meet Team USA!!!
More on Women’s Golf Day, and how others around the world are celebrating…starting in Australia and finishing in French Polynesia, events are taking place across the globe today in celebration of women and girl’s golf
Five at The IX: Michelle Wie West’s Press Conference
As a little girl, I remember meeting Michelle Wie (now Michelle Wie West) at the Kingsmill tournament in Williamsburg, VA and I remember wanting to be just as good as her. She’s remained one of my favorite golfers to emulate, and though her play has been sporadic over the last few years, I will miss her in competitive golf. Her farewell in Southern Pines was an ode to the fans, she knew…we all knew, and we should be grateful for that.
Q. Michelle Wie West. Can you talk us through your round today?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I started off great. I just got unlucky at times. Just was above the hole one too many times and just having to hit — just trying to figure out the short putts and how much it breaks and just not having much speed on them.
I just got off to the wrong start with my reads and just didn’t trust my eyes. Kind of starting off the way I did I felt like I played pretty well considering, and I had a lot of fun today.
Q. Obviously, it’s not the outcome you wanted, but what are some of the takeaways from this week?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Today started off on a great high. I did wordle for the first time I and guessed the word on the second try. I thought it was undefeatable after today, and then it was a gradual decline after that.
It was an amazing week. It’s definitely a bittersweet week. I wish I would have ended on making the cut and all of that. Obviously, no matter what, missing the cut sucks, but overall, I had a very positive experience.
It was so great to see all the fans out today. Had a lot of fun.
Q. Were you thinking at all about next year today?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: No, it’s a long ways away. I’m just going to — I’m excited to step away.
Q. Michelle, what is your plan now going forward leading up to that? You are getting away from the game. What are you going to do over the next year?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I’m probably going to let the clubs collect some dust on them for a little bit now, but I’m excited. There’s a lot of projects that I’m working on that I haven’t had time to do before, so I’m just going to dive into those. I’m really excited.
Q. Can you elaborate?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Not yet. (Laughing).
Q. Did anything hurt out there when you were playing, or did you feel good physically?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I felt pretty good. Yeah, it was — I felt pretty good out there. My calves were hurting. I’m greatly out of shape, but other than that, I felt pretty good.
Q. What did you think of the gallery support coming up on 18 and just kind of that scene out there?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah, I definitely teared up a little bit knowing that it would be one of my last times doing that. It was really cool. Definitely had flashbacks of Pinehurst and just seeing all the same people.
When they come up to me, oh, I was there in 2014. It was just really cool to see everyone here again.
Q. Who is here with you? Is McKenna here?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Solo.
Q. Just by yourself?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Down the stretch how much were you aware of where you stood in relation to the cut line? By the 18th you get to 3-over, and you never know.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: The last putt tried to make a hero putt. Thought it was going in. Gave a good run, but, you know, it is what it is. I gave it my all today.
Just unfortunate stupid bogeys here and there, but that just comes with not playing a lot. I just felt a little more rusty today than I did yesterday, but overall, I’m pretty proud of how I’m playing.
Q. Looking at your career and all your involvement with USGA, you’ve grown up with this organization and playing these championships and winning them. This was the right time to do this, do you think, because of that connection in addition to other things throughout your career, that as a USGA event that you cap it off with?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah, I mean, the U.S. Open was always going to be the last tournament I played. The Public Links was the first tournament I played on the mainland, and the U.S. Open was definitely going to be my last.
I love the USGA family. Just seeing everyone, I grew up with these people. It’s just so amazing to be here, and I’m excited for Pebble Beach next year.
Q. Michelle, I’m just curious how is the way you approach playing hole to hole, shot to shot changed from when you were younger to now? You seemed a little more relaxed and more enjoying it. Could you just talk a little bit about that?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah. I definitely think that there were times where I was very intense in my career on the golf course, but I soon learned that just — it’s a game still.
Even though it’s your job, the golf is still a game. It’s a great game, and it’s a long time to be out there if you’re not having fun.
So I decided I was going to have fun on the golf course, and I definitely had fun today.
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