Morgan Pressel’s going for her fourth worldwide title, her second in Japan this year, but her first with a new swing coach on her team.
Pressel, who won the Japan LPGA's Salonpas Cup in May, reeled off five birdies on her back nine Friday in the opening round of the LPGA's Mizuno Classic in Shima-Shi, Japan. After posting a 6-under-par 66, she heads into the weekend in third place, just a shot behind co-leaders Jiyai Shin and Yukari Baba.
Pressel, 22, began working with Gary Gilchrist six weeks ago after working with Adam Schriber the last two years. She left her long-time swing coach, Martin Hall, in great measure to find more power with Schriber late in the summer of ’08. She's trying to find something more intangible with Gilchrist.
Pressel visited the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., for an intense three-day session in late September. Gilchrist, who also works with Yani Tseng, says his work with elite players is as much about coaching the head and heart as it is the golf swing. He says that was a big part of his first sessions with Pressel.
Gilchrist, candid in his assessments, believes Pressel got away from a major strength in her game while feeling pressure to follow up on her Kraft Nabisco major championship breakthrough three years ago. He thinks she got sidetracked and lost some of her emotional edge in trying to relieve some of the frustrations that go with following up a major championship.
“One thing I’ve always loved about Morgan Pressel is that she is intense,” Gilchrist said. “She plays with a lot of emotion, and she's a closer when she gets near the lead.
“My main goal is to get her back to playing with the same emotion she used to play with. It’s part of her DNA. When she plays with a lot of emotion, she gets to where she can will the ball in the hole. I want her playing with the same passion but being less tough on herself.
'Ball striking can never be perfect. This boils down to: If she can get her emotional edge and her drive back, she can be one of the best players in the world.”
Pressel’s enjoying a good year with seven top-10s in 20 LPGA starts. She faltered down the stretch and tied for second at the Evian Masters in her best chance to win an LPGA event this season.