Michelle Wie seems to have found something special

By Randall MellAugust 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Michelle Wies first Solheim Cup isnt so much a journey of discovery as one of rediscovery.
 
Something special is going on in Wies head and heart at Rich Harvest Farms.
 
You could see it in the fire in her eyes Saturday with nearly every important putt she looked at disappearing in the hole. You could see it in the bounce in her step through a parade of birdies. You could see it in the funky little dance she did with Christina Kim after they teamed to rout Europe s Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elosegui, 5 and 4, in the morning fourballs and again in her bounding leaps after she and Cristie Kerr put away Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist, 1 up, in the afternoon foursomes.
 
Mostly, you could see it in a wondrously sure putting stroke.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie reacts to one of many made putts Saturday. (Getty Images)
Wie won both her matches Saturday.
 
Shes 2-0-1 for the week and is the Americans leading scorer going into Sunday singles.
 
Wie has found something here this week that she seemed to have lost. She has found the hope, promise and confidence that was going to make her golfs next great player.
 
The phenom looks born again. Shes reborn with a developing new strength in her game.
 
Wies putting crazy good and it seems to be infecting her entire game.
 
She was walking on air, U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel said. I asked [her caddie] Patrick [Tarrant], `Have you ever seen her this pumped up?' She was so pumped up I was worried maybe she was too pumped up, but it didnt seem to affect her. She just hit great shot after great shot.
 
Wie didnt miss a short-range putt all day with important Solheim Cup points at stake.
 
Anybody thats said Michelle Wie cant play under pressure, I think they were proven wrong today, Daniel said. She did everything and more of what weve asked from her.
 
Wie, 19, hasnt won anything in golf since she won the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship as a 13 year old, and shell be dogged by doubters until she finally breaks through and wins a bunch of times.
 
But she played Saturday like somebody whos never been closer to doing just that.
 
Two life changing events may be intersecting at Rich Harvest Farms.
 
Theres something about the camaraderie this week, the acceptance of peers who for so long seemed to resent her, thats emboldening Wie. Theres also a new approach to putting in place.
 
Wie met with Dave and Ron Stockton last week for two days at Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont , Calif. IMG, which represents Wie, invited the Stocktons to help her with her short game. David Leadbetter remains her swing coach.
 
Dave Stockton is a two-time major championship winner whose putting stroke was considered among the games finest.
 
Dave Stockton said the work with Wie focused on changing the mechanical nature of her swing. He and his son worked to change the way she thinks about putting, to get her seeing, feeling and letting go of putts. They opened her stance slightly and moved her ball position back.
 
Its proved good so far, Wie said. Hopefully one more day its going to be good.
 
Stockton said he was impressed watching Wie on television Saturday.
 
There arent many lipouts, Stockton said.
 
That tells Stockton shes honed in on speed.
 
She looks really comfortable with what we worked on, Stockton said. It takes 21 days for a habit to take hold. Imagine what well see in 21 days.
 
Putting woes have cost Wie chances to win. Too many misses from short range have cost her chances to win majors.
 
Kerr said shes noticed a difference in Wies stroke during their foursomes match.
 
It seems like shes a lot more still with her body, and shes just swinging the putter, Kerr said. The rhythm of the putter is so much better. The pace shes hitting her putts is absolutely perfect.
 
Stockton said he and his son spent much of their time with Wie talking about the nature of putting.
 
I asked her to imagine what kind of player she could be if putting were the strength of her game, Stockton said. She lighted up. She said she never imagined putting being the strength of her game.
 
Its just one week, just one event, but theres no denying Wies found something special this week.
 
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