Wie Googled Sergio, Phil for claw inspiration

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Michelle Wie says life in the public eye can be difficult when she’s struggling as much as she did last year, but she is going to try to find her smile on the course this year.

Wie is coming off her worst year a pro, finishing 105th on the LPGA money list last year, which forced her to play out of the tour’s major champions category this year. She won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014.

“I feel very fortunate people care enough about me to talk about me, good or bad,” Wie said Tuesday in her ISPS Women’s Australian News Conference. “Sometimes, it does get rough, especially with a year like last year. There’s no lying about that, but at the same time, I do feel fortunate to have the fans I do, that stick with me through tough years, through the good and bad.”

Wie is eager to try out her new putting style this week, having abandoned her unorthodox “table-top” putting stance. She was frustrated missing the cut at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic after hitting 34 of 36 greens in regulation but making only three birdies with her table-top stance. She’s going with a more classic upright stance this week, but with the Sergio Garcia-style claw grip.

“I definitely Googled `The Claw,’” Wie said. “You should see my research. I Googled every one. I liked Phil’s (Mickelson) and Sergio’s. I tried everything out, and it feels good.”

Mostly, Wie said she wants to find the fun in her game again this year.

“Last year, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and this year, I’m trying not to do that . . . when I’m out there smiling and enjoying the game, that’s when I do my best,” she said.

David Leadbetter, her longtime swing coach, is rooting for her.

“It’s been a long, long haul, but I still have high hopes,” Leadbetter said. “She still hits some unbelievable golf shots that make me marvel, that make me say there aren’t many girls who can hit shots like that.”

What’s her goals this week?

“I’ll be happy if I feel confident all four days,” she said. “I just want to go out there, hit some good shots, make some putts and build some confidence.”