Whaley is the head professional at Blue Fox Run Golf Club in Avon, Conn. Shes also a teaching professional. And she also became only the second woman in 58 years ' following Annika Sorenstam ' to play in a PGA Tour event when she played in the Greater Hartford Open last year. Incidentally, she qualified for that event by winning her PGA of America sectional event ' the first woman in 58 years to qualify for a PGA Tour event.
Appearing Monday night with host Kelly Tilghman on the Golf Channels Academy Live, Whaley discussed the ways in which she diffused the tension which threatened to grab her at the GHO. And she marveled at the abilities of Wie, the 14-year-old Hawaiian who missed the cut by just one shot when she shot 72-68 last week in the Hawaiian Open.
I never would have believed ' never! ' that anyone who was female could have played as well as she did last week, said Whaley. It was tremendous ' and to be just 14 ' and without any look of fear whatsoever. To do it ' and she belonged out there without any issue. It was truly amazing. It was fun to watch!
Whaley agreed that it takes a strong head on ones shoulders to shake the fears of playing in a PGA Tour event ' especially a woman playing on the tour for the first time. She went to University of North Carolinas mental coach Bob Rotella for help in the mental game, which to her was almost as difficult a task in preparing for her awesome assignment as preparing for the physical game.
What I do is take three basic steps ' I worked on my focus, what I could do with visualization, pre-shot routine, what I could do to make sure that each and every shot, I was in the present. I was there during that shot, and I didnt have to think about it when it was done, she said.
I worked on tension management, which was controlling the amount of tension I was feeling the entire round, and I did that for certain exercises and certain drills and for breathing techniques; and I worked on my decision-making
'I think thats what Michelle did so well ' she hit shots that she knew shed hit before. She didnt try anything that she didnt know what to do. She stayed within herself and played HER game, which made her play well.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you watch Wie play, Tilghman asked Whaley? One of the things is her strength.
A strong left leg at impact, said Whaley. The strength that is in her lower body, as well as in her upper body ' there are very few females that have that kind of strength. I think to be able to hold the impact position as long as she can is very unusual for a female.
Whaley dissected Wies swing in a video which depicted the 14-year-old launching a driver.
Her posture really impresses me ' shes 6 feet tall, and very straight in the back area, Whaley said as she watched the video. And just excellent position with her arms. Strong left arm to start this golf swing. Her feet are a little further than shoulder-width apart, but that OK - shes hitting a driver in this frame.
As she takes the club back, what is so incredibly impressive is her lower body is still under her ' what I mean by that is that both knees are still flexed, straight left arm, you can see the L that her wrist hinge has made for her. And from the L position, she actually rotates to the top of her backswing instead of lifts; her shoulder turn is just massive. Her coil is just huge!
And when she starts to go down in her golf swing, she steps into that left side. There is no throw from the top in Michelles golf swing. Both knees are moving in the same direction. And her left side is straight and firm.
Whaley wondered at the positions into which Wie coiled her body. Her flexibility is unreal! she said.
Shes the real deal.