Wie's buddy breaks out bubbly, calls victory a 'vindication'

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Christina Kim made birdie on 18, signed her scorecard, went to the clubhouse, bought a bottle of Champagne and came back to wait for Michelle Wie.

When Wie tapped in for par to win the CN Canadian Women’s Open by three shots, Kim, along with Cristie Kerr, ran onto the green and unleashed the bottle of bubbly on the 20-year-old as thousands of Manitoba golf fans cheered.

Kim slipped something called a “paper Tweet” under Wie’s hotel room door on Saturday night, urging her to “keep up the great work.” Wie did just that on Sunday, and she thanked the 26-year-old Kim for the post-round shower.

“Tina and I are very close,” said Wie, who still isn’t old enough to drink alcohol in her native U.S. but could do so in Manitoba if she wanted. “I’ve known her for a very long time. She’s always been there for me.

“She’s a really good friend out here on tour, and even off tour we hang out a lot. So she’s a very special person to me.”

Kim, therefore, is a voracious defender of the player who became well known at age 10 for her exploits on the golf course and, as a result, has had a roller-coaster ride through the court of public opinion — and with a few of her own colleagues on the LPGA Tour — over the last decade.

Asked if Wie is misunderstood, Kim said that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“No, she has been wrongly portrayed by the media — no offence,” Kim said. “A lot of people have said a lot of things about her, but she’s just off doing her own thing. In all aspects of life it’s all you can do.”

Kim believes Wie made a strong statement about her game as well with Sunday’s triumph. There were a few “yeah, buts” after Wie won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November because there were only 30 players in the field.

“Even though it was the top 30 players that were able to be out there,” Kim said with a tinge of disgust in her voice. “This is a nice vindication for her. It’s so huge for everybody — for her, for the LPGA Tour, for the game of golf. There’s nothing but positive.”

Kim wasn’t the only one on Sunday throwing her support behind Wie, who made the biggest headlines as a teenager for teeing it up with the men on the PGA Tour.

“She’s a great player,” said Suzann Pettersen, who tied for second. “I’m surprised she’s not up there more often, because she’s a great ball striker. When she gets her game together she’s tough to beat.

“She’s a good competitor, she’s a good friend of mine, and I wish her all the best.”

Wie, no matter where she stands on the money list, is also the most well known female golfer on the planet. More performances like her wire-to-wire triumph in Winnipeg, however, and her world ranking could soon be as high as her Q Score, which measures the familiarity and appeal of celebrities.

And maybe Winnipeg will be the place that kicked off her push to the top.

“I’ve known for years that she’s got what it takes to make some incredible things happen on the golf course,” Kim said.

Wie plans to take this week off before teeing it up in the P&G Arkansas Championship Sept. 10-12. Then it’s back to Stanford University for her senior year of school.

After that, who knows?

“I can’t really think that far in advance. That doesn’t really work. I’m going to go back to the States, have a good week off, work on my body and get ready for Arkansas.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos