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September 26, 2017

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Wie says goodbye to LPGA title drought

KAPOLEI, United States -- American Michelle Wie won her first LPGA title since 2010 on Saturday, firing five-under par 67 for a two-shot victory in the Lotte Championship.

Wie had six birdies, and not even a three-putt bogey at the final hole at her home course, Ko Olina, could dim her joy at her third career LPGA crown.

"It feels good," said the 24-year-old, who erased a four-shot deficit to win with a 14-under par total of 274.

"I'm just so happy right now I can't think straight," she said.

Wie's other two LPGA titles also came in North America, at the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico and at Canadian Women's Open in August of 2010 — but she had never before won on U.S. soil.

She's projected to jump from 23rd to 13th in the women's world rankings.

Angela Stanford took a four-stroke lead over Wie and Kim Hyo-Joo into the final round, but carded a one-over 73 for a 12-under total of 276 that left her alone in second place.

World number one Park In-Bee of South Korea, still in search of her first LPGA title of 2014, carded a 67 for 277. She was one stroke in front of compatriot Kim, whose 71 for 278 gave her sole possession of fourth place.

South Koreans Ryu So-yeon and Chella Choi shared fifth place on 279, Ryu carding a final-round 69 and Choi a 67.

Wie's victory follows three top-10 finishes this year, including her runner-up finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of 2014.

"She's been playing great," Stanford said. "She's having a great year, so it was bound to happen. I just happened to be the one that caught the buzz saw."

It's welcome progress for a player who shot to prominence as a young prodigy, finishing ninth in her major debut at the age of 13.

"This is a dream come true for me," Wie said of winning on her home course. "I think I'll have more confidence going forward."

Wie took sole possession of the lead with her fourth birdie of the day, at the par-three 12th, and added another at the par-five 13th.

"I was just being patient and having a blast," Wie said. "I had so much fun."

After she rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th, Stanford bogeyed 17 to allow Wie to take a three-stroke cushion to the final hole.

"Today, I just didn't make the putts that I've been making," Stanford said. "I just didn't make the putts I needed to."

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