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WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – “She came over here. She was nine years old”. Casey Nakama, owner/operator of the Casey Nakama Golf Development Center, recalls when a young Michelle Wie began taking lessons at his academy.

Nakama was her first golf instructor, teaching her first two to three times a week at Olomana Golf Links, then five to six as her golf skills began to develop.

He recalls the hype that started to surround the phenom.

“The biggest thing that happened was at a Pro Junior event for the Sony Open. Tom Lehman and Fred Couples came on and said they’d never seen anything like it before” he said.

Wie’s incredible driving distance was just one of the reasons the hype came in waves. It was hype that she couldn’t live up to. After winning her first major championship Sunday, Wie addressed it, saying “it was tough. I had my ups and downs. I had really high expectations for myself as well. But I’m just really grateful for all that I went through”.

All of those struggles are now in the distant past. Nakama says the ability for Wie to win a major could be the pivotal moment of her career.

“Confidence, it’s unbelievable in this game, what confidence does for you. Now she wins and she knows she can win? It’s gonna be scary to see what happens here”.

Opponents may cringe at the thought, but it’s one could have advertisers lining up for her services.

“She’s tall, she fits clothes well, she has a beautiful smile and she has that ‘It’ factor”.

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