If Tiger Woods handed you his driver and asked you if you wanted to try a few drives, could you possibly refuse?
Michelle Wie did.
It happened last Wednesday in Hawaii during the Pro-Am at the Plantation Course the day before the Mercedes Championships began. Woods was in the middle of his round. Wie, who would tee off later in the tee with another group, had been driven in a cart onto the course to meet Tiger.
It was the first meeting between the two and will almost certainly turn out to be an historic one. Woods, quite probably, will be remembered as the greatest player who ever lived by the time his playing days have concluded. The 14-year-old Wie, according to most experts, has a terrific opportunity to become the greatest woman player who ever lived.
The latter statement, by the way, is not meant to put undue pressure on a player who hasnt yet finished her freshman year in high school. Fact is, Wie herself will be unhappy with anything but becoming the best female golfer of all time.
Anyway, here was Wie meeting her idol. And here was that idol asking her to have a few swings with his driver. The temptation must have been a sore one. But Wie is as smart as she is good. So she said, no.
The reason, according to her father B.J., was because she knew the shaft in Woods driver was too stiff. She didnt want to look bad in front of Woods.
Wie, according to Pat McCoy, the manager of technical services at Fujikura, uses an extra stiff 46-inch shaft in her driver. Its a Fujikura Speeder. It weighs 71 grams. Its tip is flexible. Its composition is graphite carbon fiber.
Woods, according to sources, uses a 44 inch shaft in his driver. Its a steel prototype. It weighs approximately 120 grams. Its tip is very rigid. Its composition is steel.
Two very different weapons. Wies specs are the way they are because her best launch angle is different. Its more important for her to get the ball in the air faster. If she had tried Woods driver, McCoy said, it would have been difficult for her.
She probably could have made it work, McCoy said, but it probably wouldnt have been optimum for her.
Part of the problem is that even though both play shafts labeled extra stiff, there are varying degrees of extra stiff. Tigers driver is probably four times stiffer than Michelles, McCoy said. McCoy also said Woods swing speed is about 18 miles per hour faster than Wies.
The interesting thing about this is that Wie knew all these differences were significant. She knew it would be difficult to impress him without her own club.
This is the kind of precocity we got from Woods at the same age. Woods played in his first PGA Tour event as an amateur when he was 16. Wie will play in her first PGA Tour event this week at the Sony Open. To repeat, she is just 14, half Woods current age. Tuesday she played a practice round with Ernie Els.
All of which begs this question: Who hit the ball farther when they were 14 years old, Woods or Wie. Thats the virtual reality competition Id like to see.
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