The road that Michelle Wie took to a U.S. Women's Open title was unlike any other, and suddenly insignificant. Whether this was a long time coming was the least of her cares.
The biggest star in women's golf had her name on the biggest trophy, and she never looked happier.
"Oh my God, I can't even think straight," the Stanford graduate said Sunday after a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis to claim her first major.
The final three holes at Pinehurst No. 2 were filled with ups and downs that Wie knows as well as anyone in golf. She responded with a performance worthy of the hype that had been heaped on her since she was a teenager.
With a three-shot advantage on the 16th hole, Wie nearly threw it all away, only keeping the lead by making a nervy 5-foot putt for double bogey after taking a stroke penalty for an unplayable lie. And right when it looked as though this would end badly, the 24-year-old responded with the putt of her life. Facing a 25-foot birdie putt on 17 that was fast and dangerous, Wie pumped her fist when it fell, then pounded her fist in celebration.
"That kind of emotion, that kind of pressure ... I'll think of that putt as one of the best putts I've ever hit in my life," Wie said.
A par on 18 gave her an even-par 70 to beat Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf. Lewis made eight birdies -- the most in a final round by a male or female in the U.S. Open in the North Carolina sandhills -- and closed with a 66.
Friends and frequent practice partners. Lewis said she wasn't the last bit surprised Wie delivered such a clutch moment.
"That scene on 18, being on network TV, as many people as we had around there and Michelle Wie winning the golf tournament, I don't think you can script it any better," Lewis said. "It's great for the game of golf. It's even better for women's golf. I'm so happy for Michelle Wie. This has been such a long time coming for her."
Wie had a chance to win this title when she was a 15-year-old amateur at Cherry Hills, and a 16-year-old pro at Newport.
That seems like a lifetime ago. Wie is all grown up.
"I can't believe this is happening," said Wie, who took home $720,000.
Wie finished at 2-under 278, the only player to beat par in the second week of championship golf at Pinehurst No. 2. Martin Kaymer won by eight shots last week at 9-under 271.
Juli Inkster, playing her 35th and final Open, closed with a 75 to tie for 15th.
"I was disappointed in the way I played today, as a golfer," said Inkster, who turns 54 on Tuesday. "But it's been a fun week, and that's what I'll remember."
Inkster was among seven players at 287. Also at 7 over and earning $58,096 was Pleasanton native Paula Creamer (73).
The cheers for Inkster began when she walked to the first tee box.
"It was very nice. It was great. Very, very, very honored," the former San Jose State star said.
Inkster received the loudest ovation of the week walking up the 18 until Wie.
"I think that without your downs, without the hardship, I don't think you appreciate the ups as much as you do," Wie said. "The fact that I struggled so much, the fact that I kind of went through a hard period of my life, the fact that this trophy is right next to me, it means so much more to me than it ever would have when I was 15. I feel extremely lucky."
PGA: Kevin Streelman birdied the last seven holes to win the Travelers Championship by a shot at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Streelman shot a 6-under 64 to finish at 15-under 265. He broke the tour record for consecutive closing birdies by a winner of six set by Mike Souchak in the 1956 St. Paul Open. Sergio Garcia (67) and K.J. Choi (67) shared second.
"I had 10 one-putts in a row," said Streelman, who won $1.12 million. "That's something I've definitely never done before."
Champions: Tom Lehman made a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 to win the Encompass Championship in Glenview, Illinois. He closed with a 2-under 70 at North Shore and had a 15-under 201 total. San Mateo's Michael Allen (67) and Kirk Triplett (68) tied for second at 202.