Michelle Wie and Rory McIlroy gave their fans much to cheer about over the weekend, as each showed signs of rounding back into form after less-than-stellar seasons for both former phenoms.
Wie fired a 6-under 66 in Sunday’s final round of the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea to record her best finish on the LPGA Tour, a T3, in more than two years. The two-time tour winner posted the best score of the day, which was one shot shy of making a playoff between Hee Kyung Seo and eventual winner Amy Yang.
"Like I said, at the beginning of the season, it's coming along," Wie told reporters after posting her flawless round. "It's just taking some time to get together. I feel like my game is finally coming together slowly, I have just been patient with my game and working hard at it. It’s just nice to see that it paid off this week, and hopefully I can finish strong next week."
Wie plays next at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The 24-year-old Stanford grad, who was coming off a T12 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia contest, won most recently at the 2011 Canadian Women’s Open.
McIlroy, playing at the Kolon Korea Open, rallied from Saturday’s awful 4-over 75, an all-too-familiar type score this season for the former world No. 1, to shoot a 67 in Sunday’s finale. His five-birdie day, which left him in a five-way tie for runner-up and within a stroke of his first victory of 2013, was encouraging and frustrating at the same time.
"I could have shot anything, absolutely anything," McIlroy, who has gone winless since switching from Titleist to Nike clubs at the beginning of the year, told the Independent afterward. "I only missed two greens and had so many chances, but it was like the story of yesterday -- I just didn't hole enough putts."
McIlroy was coming off a lengthy break after a T59 finish at the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship and banked a nice chunk of change for appearing in the tourney.
The currently sixth-ranked golfer had exited Woo Joeng Hills Country Country Club before a rules fracas broke out that, incredibly, had nothing to do with Tiger Woods. Third-round leader Kim Hyung-tae was on the 17th tee with what he believed was a two-shot lead when a rules official informed him he and playing partner Hong Soon-sang had each grounded a club in a hazard back on the 13th hole.
Each incurred a two-shot penalty but not before a reported two-hour argument with officials at the site of the rules violation during which Kim vigorously contended he had not committed the breach. Kim can, no doubt, expect a failing grade from Brandel Chamblee for, "how shall we say this ...[being] a little cavalier with the rules."
As for McIlroy, he rued leaving so many shots out on the course.
"I created so many more chances today that it could have been 61, 62. It just wasn't to be," he said. "I didn't birdie any of the par fives, which was disappointing.
"I felt like it could have been so much lower the last couple of days," said McIlroy, 24, who put his private life back into the limelight by tweeting kudos to Caroline Wozniacki after his possibly on-again/off-again "my girl" won her first tennis match in more than a year.