Quick Round with David Leadbetter

By Randall MellNovember 21, 2009, 5:05 am
David Leadbetter has been working with Michelle Wie practically since she began making national news as a 12-year-old.

They’ve been through a lot together, from her burst onto the national scene as a young phenom with a dream of playing against PGA Tour pros through her swoon after a pair of wrist injuries three seasons ago to her breakthrough LPGA victory this year.

Senior writer Randall Mell connected with Leadbetter for a quick round earlier this week, before Wie’s ankle injuries worsened and caused her withdrawal from the LPGA Tour Championship on Thursday:

David Leadbetter
David Leadbetter has been coaching Michelle Wie since she was 12. (Getty Images)
What was your reaction to Michelle’s breakthrough victory last weekend and what it means to women’s golf?

I’ve always believed in her. I knew the talent she had and that it was just a matter of time. I think it’s a great thing for the LPGA. If players are smart, they realize she’s a special talent who ultimately can really help them, in Tiger-like fashion. The LPGA needs a jump start. It’s obviously had some issues losing tournaments and with the economy and so on, and she can certainly help stimulate things. When she is playing well there is nobody in the women’s game who draws crowds and creates interest like she does, regardless. There are a tremendous number of good players, but she is a story, and she’s been a story for a long while for the right reasons and the wrong reasons, nevertheless a story.

Did you feel the relief she felt finally winning?

I felt `thank goodness.’ It’s been a huge, huge cross to bear for her. She’s had so much thrown at her. There are so many experts out there who think they know how to do it. Let’s face it, she’s made mistakes, who hasn’t? She went about it a little differently. You hear about all the parental control, but part of it is cultural. They are a very close-knit family. They have their little deals as most families do, but Michelle is her own person. She is the one who decided she wanted to go to college and that she wanted to play PGA Tour events. She was encouraged, but she is very strong-minded, very strong-willed. I knew the victory was going to come, it was just a matter of when. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be this year with the injury.

The left ankle injury clearly bothered her at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, but it didn’t stop her.

I think the expectations weren’t as high because of the injury. We did some stuff on Internet before she left, and (her swing) wasn’t looking very good. She made an adjustment in her stance to try to alleviate the pain in her foot. She opened her foot way up, which was causing some problems. I said, 'Listen, I know you have to live through this pain, but you have to get this foot squared up.’ She did that. She was driving the ball well there. She said she was more comfortable with the driver last week than she’s been in a long time.

The ankle injury must have put you on guard, because you saw how detrimental her wrist injuries were to her swing in 2007. You were outspoken about how you thought she was coming back too quickly. In fact, you haven’t been afraid to tell Michelle or her parents things they might not want to hear.

I haven’t always agreed with all their decisions, and I’ve been vocal about that. I’ve been around, and I’ve seen what helps create success and what helps create problems. I’d be the first to admit they did some things that in retrospect they wouldn’t do if they had to do it over again, like not playing in so many men’s events. I think they respect me enough that I can say things. I’m close to them and part of the inner circle.

Her last year of high school (in 2006), she went over to play the European Masters (on the men’s European Tour), and I think she finished dead last. She was fatigued, swinging out of her shoes, her wrists were already giving her some issues, some tendinitis. Then she went out and played in the 84 Lumber Classic the next week (and missed the cut by 13 shots) on the longest course of the year. Now, she’s just played two events against men, she’s very fatigued, but her work ethic comes into it. She’s deciding she’s going to work this out, and then she breaks her wrist training. It wasn’t rehabbed properly.

When she came back, there was just no way she should have played, but it was enthusiasm on Michelle’s part. It was her competitive spirit saying I can do this, but it was nuts. She’s a player who wants to play. It’s hard for a player to be on the sideline, it’s really hard. She wasn’t healed, she wasn’t strong, she developed some bad habits as a result and when you do that there are mental issues and you lose confidence.

How did that affect her?

She was down about her game, and she just wasn’t a happy person. She’s genuinely a very happy person who loves life and is always laughing, but she was miserable then. You can understand that.

How did she bounce back?

It’s a case where she worked her way back. She went back to ground zero so to speak. She had to rebuild her credibility, and she did that. She went through tour school.

You said her ability to get away from golf helped her bounce back. She has interest in art and fashion and as a fan of other sports.

She’s happy now. That’s important. She didn’t like golf for awhile, but golf doesn’t rule her life. She likes doing other things. To some extent, these other things are going to give her a fairly long career. The concern I have in so many young players is they are going to get burned out. That’s a concern I have for a lot of young players. There’s such a rush to get so good so young and so fast. Tiger Woods has great balance in his life. Jack Nicklaus did too. Michelle has that balance.
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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 Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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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Rory faces criticism

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Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

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Cart on the green


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Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


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Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

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Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

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Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

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Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

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Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm