Wie LPGA at Same Crossroad


LPGA Tour _newDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' David Leadbetter sensed the question coming three fairways away Tuesday:
Is this week more important to Michelle Wie, a reporter wanted to know, or is it more important to the LPGA?
It was eve of the final stage of LPGA Q-School and the versatile Leadbetter ' one of the most successful teachers in the history of the game ' was doubling up and serving as a spokesman for the Wie family.
Very important for Michelle, Leadbetter began, because shes got to have a place to play next year. This stopping and starting schedule shes been on is no good.
On Wednesday 140 women will tee it up at LPGA International for five rounds of organized torture. Late Sunday 20 of them will emerge with full playing privileges for 2009. The LPGA is quietly rooting and fervently hoping for Wie to advance.
With Annika leaving, Leadbetter continued, getting back to the question, its really important for good young players, especially American players, to step up. Right now they are few and far between.
Michelles a great drawing card. And when shes in full flow, shes a sight to behold. People need to put the axes that have been ground behind. This is a new era.
For her part, Wie was not doing any interviews Tuesday. Her parents, Bo and B.J. were cordial and shook hands. But they have long since stopped talking to the media.
So it fell to the next most decorated player in this field ' Stacy Lewis ' to give a players perspective on the Question of the Day. Lewis was the 54-hole leader at last Junes U.S. Womens Open and is the only women ever to go 5-0 in a Curtis Cup competition.
The LPGA just needs young American players to step up and compete, Lewis said. And Michelles definitely a draw. It would definitely help the LPGA (if Wie gets her card). But thats also a lot of pressure for her.
Wie, 19, has always been a multi-tasker when it comes to golf and all the other things she wants to do outside of the game. When she returns to California at the end of this week, she will run smack into the beginning of finals week at Stanford where she is an undergraduate.
Leadbetter reported that she has brought the books with her to Florida this week and, he said, he thinks it will be a good distraction for her to have something to think about at night other than golf.
You can get too wrapped up in what happened on the course, he said.
Leadbetter played in several international Q-Schools in his days as a player and has talked a lot about the strategy of the 90 holes with Wie. Youve got to accept the fact that youre going to hit a few bad shots, he said. You have to stay light and smiling and not play defensively. You have to stay low key. Its more of a mental battle.
The 23-year-old Lewis, who experienced the rigors of Q-School caddying for friend at the PGA Tours second stage, said she will be trying to just joke around and have fun.
A lot of people here, Lewis said, are pretty uptight.
It will help, Lewis said, that her college coach at the University of Arkansas, Shauna Estes-Taylor, will be on her bag this week.
Wies last LPGA start was in mid-August where she tied for 12th at the CN Canadian Womens Open. Her only top 10 this year came at a Ladies European Tour event in Germany prior to the U.S. Womens Open where she missed the cut.
Since then, Leadbetter said, Wies multifarious injuries have healed. She loves being aggressive with the driver now, he said. And she wasnt able (when her wrist was hurt) to support the club. She never really lost her short game and the looseness in her swing from the injuries is gone.
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