just needed to catch up.
The win at the end of
last year got her confi-
dence going. When she
starts making putts,
she’s going to be really
hard to beat.”
Thompson is now playing with a full
complement of tools, a short game as well as
the long ball. A faulty putting stroke that once
eroded the advantage her strength provided
has largely dissipated.
“I had moved really close to the ball to get
my eyes more over it to see my line,” she said.
“It’s not something I’ve been used to. Even as
a little kid I stood far away from the ball and
took the putter inside. So I just went right
back to that, just go where I’m most comfortable and feel I
can make the putt. I moved farther away and just take one
look at the hole and just knock it in.”
The evidence is found in the scorecards. Thompson played
a bogey-free final round of four-under 68 and made only one
bogey over the final 55 holes of a major championship.
“I’ve seen her in this mode before where her irons are that
good, but it was definitely dialed in,” her father said. “It’s been
good for a few weeks now. This is good timing. I knew this week
was going to be a good week because she was playing well. She
was hitting it so good. She was in a good place mentally too.”
Wie, meanwhile, might need to consult a map to find that
good place after this latest disappointment, though she took
solace in finishing second, indicative of improvement. “I
think it’s a sign. I think I’m getting close,” she said.
Close is not a new development in the Wie saga. A decade
earlier, at 14, she finished fourth in the Kraft Nabisco. Two
years later she was T- 3. From ages 13 through 16, she finished
in the top five in half of the 12 majors in which she played.
Meanwhile, from age 17 heading into the Kraft Nabisco
last week, she had played in 24 majors without a single top-
five finish, while missing five cuts and withdrawing twice.
She also hasn’t won a tournament for the better part of four
years. The obvious conclusion, then, was that she was a bet-
ter player before her 17th birthday than she has been after it.
Only her popularity has remained consistently strong. A
billboard promoting the Kraft Nabisco, alongside Interstate
10 near the western entrance to the Coachella Valley, fea-
tured her image, and she delivered on the billing by sharing
the 54-hole lead with Thompson.
Sunday’s marquee was further buttressed by the penultimate pairing of Se Ri Pak and Charley Hull, one a Hall of
Famer, the other an 18-year-old upstart from England who
enchanted legions with her demeanor and performance in
the Solheim Cup last summer. They were tied for third, two
strokes in arrears, but neither rose to the challenge. Pak
closed with a 74, Hull with a 76.
So it was largely match play on Sunday, featuring dual power
hitters, though Wie curiously opted to use a popgun against
Thompson’s howitzer, often spotting her a 30-yard advantage
off the tee. “I stuck with my game plan,” Wie said, “and I think
Wie (above rig
from the fans
made the cele
jump into Pop