Hawaii is still talking about Michelle Wie’s first major victory at the U.S. Women’s Open.
There were shaky moments on the 16th hole when she took a penalty when her pitch out of the bunker got buried in some tall grass, but she held on to win by two shots.
On Monday, KHON2 News caught up with her very first golf instructor, Casey Nakama.
When asked what was going through his mind as he watched his former student play the last few holes of the tournament, Nakama said “I was hoping that she hangs on, and when she made that putt (on the 17th hole), it was more relief.”
The golf instructor has a vested interest in Wie’s career, ever since she was his student at the age of 11.
“We had a practice session and she had caught on to some real advanced stuff that we were doing and that’s when I said we might have something special here.”
Nakama agrees with many observers who say her new attitude has improved her game — going to Stanford and playing golf at the same time would be tough on anybody.
“Playing golf is so hard,” he said, “so I think her mind is much more clear, her game is maturing right at the same time, it’s just a whole bunch of things (coming together) at the same time.
“I’m really excited now to see what happens from here on, because this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
TV ratings were up for the Lotte tournament at Ko Olina where Wie won back in mid-April, and even more so for the U.S. Women’s Open. They reportedly increased 89 percent from last year’s final round and were the best since 2007 for a Sunday at the tournament.
“Michelle just draws people to her,” Nakama said. “She’s tall, fits her clothes well with that Nike apparel, has a great smile, great golf game, great swing. Whatever it is, she has that ‘it’ factor.”