It takes a different kind of imagination to get your head around a player stealing the show in the world of golf on a week when:
- A player named Kevin Streelman birdied seven straight holes Sunday in Connecticut to snatch victory away from a group of players, including Sergio García – who, by the way, should be on your short list of favorites for Hoylake next month.
- A player named Tiger Woods announced he is returning to competitive golf after more than 100 days of a forced layoff due to a back that needed surgery. By the way II: Tiger tells us he has been listening to his doctors. I’ll believe that when I see the evidence.
- A player named Rory McIlroy confirmed, at the Irish Open, that he will be playing for Ireland (not England) in the Olympics in Rio in two years. By the way III: McIlroy’s announcement stole the show from Mikko Ilonen’s wire-to-wire win at Fota.
- An 11-year-old player named Lucy Li put her ice cream cone down long enough to shoot 78-78 at Pinehurst and charm the entire world of golf.
Michelle Wie topped all those stories by winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 Sunday. And she did it with a different kind of imagination.
Everybody talks about the imagination, call it creativity if you wish, that it was always going to take with the short game around the turtle back green complexes at Donald Ross’ signature work.
But what about imagination with the long game? It never gets talked about in this context.
What about making the right decisions on club selection, wind detection, distance and trajectory control so you don’t constantly leave yourself the tricky chips and pitches and bumps that will wear you out after 72 holes.
That’s what Michelle Wie did last week – one week after German Martin Kaymer had shown her the blueprint in the U.S. Open.
Wie knew she had an advantage on 98 percent of the rest of the field because, on command, she can hit the ball long and high and low and hard when she needs to do so.
To be sure, she was in full flight most of the week. And unlike the latter stages of this year’s first major at Kraft Nabisco, where she decided to mostly keep the driver in the bag and play sawed off knockdowns, Wie wasn’t afraid to show off her glorious full swing.
Throw in a praying mantis putting style that is all her own that works on fast greens, and in hindsight, it’s hard to imagine anybody else winning the second major of the year for the women last week.
Wie isn’t world No. 1 yet. And there’s no guarantee she will get there. But she has gifts in her game and arrows in her quiver that no other woman possesses.
She has a different kind of imagination.