Leadbetter: Wie’s issues more mental than physical

By Randall MellApril 27, 2016, 10:03 pm

David Leadbetter has never worked with a player like Michelle Wie.

She fascinates and frustrates him. She intrigues and infuriates him. She makes him both marvel and worry over the possibilities she still possesses.

Leadbetter says he loves Wie like a daughter, and it’s why he isn’t afraid to say things she might not like to hear. They’ve been to hell and back together since she was 13.

It’s why as Wie works through yet another physical malady getting ready for Thursday’s start of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, Leadbetter isn’t afraid to say Wie’s head is as much a key to unlocking her potential as her body is.

“For me, it’s more a mental thing with Michelle now rather than physical,” Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com. “She has to come to terms with what she wants to do, what she wants to achieve and how she wants to achieve it.

“She is very low on confidence right now. She really hasn’t had any good tournaments to speak of this year. She played OK at the ANA, but the last few months certainly haven’t been to anybody’s liking.”

Leadbetter is not saying the physical maladies Wie faces again are not real.

Wie, 26, withdrew from the Swinging Skirts Classic after 15 holes Sunday with neck spasms. She was 11 over par when she walked off the course. It marked three missed cuts and one WD in her seven full-field starts this year. She was treated by the San Francisco 49ers team chiropractor before leaving California and again by the LPGA’s physiotherapists at the tour’s sports medicine trailer at the Texas Shootout after arriving for the event this week. She abandoned the neck brace she was given to play a nine-hole practice round Tuesday and a nine-hole pro-am round Wednesday.

“She doesn’t know how she hurt her neck, whether she slept on it funny or what,” Leadbetter said. “It got to the point where she could hardly turn her neck at all, and if you can’t rotate your neck, you’re going to have trouble rotating your spine. She’s just very injury prone. I call her a walking cadaver. I’m not sure she hasn’t had any part of her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury.”

Wie said Wednesday her neck is feeling better, and she’s expecting to play this week.

“It’s just weird the way the injury came about,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn't be able to play, but I saw my chiropractor, and I've been working with the physios on tour, and it's been feeling a lot better.”

Leadbetter knows the backlash Wie will get teeing it up again just four days after her withdrawal.

“I have no doubt it was a genuine injury,” he said.

Wie battled left hip, knee and ankle injuries most of last season. She endured a deep bone bruise in the index finger of her right hand after winning the U.S. Women’s Open the year before. She has battled through injuries to both of her wrists, through a severely sprained ankle and through a bulging disc in her back in the past.

Leadbetter believes Wie’s short, tightly coiled swing led to her hip, knee and ankle injuries last year, and while he isn’t saying her neck spasms are related, he still sees her putting stress on her body with her swing in ways that worry him. At this year’s start, Leadbetter delivered Wie a “tough-love message,” asking her to quit relentlessly tinkering with her swing and to commit to sticking with a more free flowing motion, with a bigger hip turn that would promote a more rhythmic tempo. Wie likes to restrict her hips and tightly coil around them. Leadbetter is still seeing more of that this year than he likes.

“Overall, her swing is more nice and full,” Leadbetter said. “She doesn’t have these short punches going, but she’s still tinkering a little bit more than I would like. We’ve been trying to get her natural and flowing, but Michelle has her own ideas about how things should be done. She is a very determined, single-minded person. Some of the things, I’m not in total agreement with, but in the end she has to make the decision. Again, I do like the fact that she’s back to a full swing.”

What concerns Leadbetter is how Wie is still coiling so hard around a restricted hip turn.

“I would like to see more lower body movement,” Leadbetter said. “It’s amazing she can swing it back as far as she does with that limited amount of hip rotation. The hip movement gives you your rhythm, your flow and alleviates any tendency to have lower body injuries.

“In her youth, Michelle had the ability to have a full windup with zero hip turn. You look at players today, and for the most part, there is a 45-degree hip rotation. Michelle has about a 15-degree hip rotation.”

Leadbetter said Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and Lotte Championship two years ago with that tight coil around a limited hip turn. She looked close to dominating with her ball striking in that four- to five-month run, but even then Leadbetter worried what the violent torque was doing to her body.

What Leadbetter likes is the desire he still sees in Wie, the determination to find the sharp ball striking that led to her resurgence of confidence in 2014.

“I read all this nonsense that she has lost her desire, and that's a bunch of hooey,” Leadbetter said. “She works her butt off.

“She is an intriguing character, almost maddening and infuriating, because I know how good this girl is, what she can do. You just want to somehow push her, say `Come on, let's see if we can get to that level we know you're capable of.’ I'm sure it's got to be frustrating to her, and to her parents, because she has these glimpses, but then all of a sudden, it's like it disappears. It would be a heck of a story if she really gets hot again, but I can tell you she is not out there quitting.”

Leadbetter is there helping, sometimes with words Wie doesn’t want to hear.

“You just never know when someone’s game is going to rebound,” Leadbetter said. “Hopefully, she gets a couple good runs under her belt going and that gives her a little bit of confidence. That's really what she needs more than anything else right now.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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