Youre going to see a little bit more of an elegant look to her three-quarter shots, said top 100 swing instructor David Leadbetter, who initiated the changes during Christmas break sessions with Wie and has been monitoring them via video since that time. Michelle had been hitting too many punch shots. It was sort of a Tiger stinger. And she relied on it too much.
This, then, represents a first, of sorts: Somebody un-imitating Tiger Woods in order to get better.
But Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com there is more energy in Wies swing these days. Weve been working on controlling the low shots, he added. But, he said, theyve been doing it in a more flowing way.
Leadbetter stopped short of making predictions for how Wie will fare this week. Shes in very good spirits, he said of his star female pupil. But you never know quite what to expect in the first tournament of the year.
Its always a case of how well she drives the ball. But her swing has gotten better and better. Shes been working out. Shes gotten much stronger and theres been no complaining about injuries.
Wie is still currently enrolled at Stanford, but will leave school to play in Hawaii, Mexico and Phoenix in the run-up to the years first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship the first week of April.
Michelles really excited, Leadbetter said. Were expecting good things. In order to secure a berth into the Kraft Nabisco, Wie must either win before then or climb into the top 30 on the 2009 money list by the Monday of Kraft week.
She is just one of a terrific class of LPGA rookies that includes 2008 Q-School medalist Stacy Lewis, the 54 hole leader at the U.S. Womens Open last year; Vicky Hurst, a dominant force on the Duramed Futures Tour in 2008; and Ji-Yai Shin. Shin won the Womens British and the ADT Championship last year as a non-member of the LPGA.
CONNECTION: It seems like eons ago that young teenager Michelle Wie, now 19, won the 2003 Womens Publinx at Ocean Hammock in Palm Coast, Fl. And heres a fascinating connection:
The winner of the inaugural Womens Publinx was Kelly Fuiks way back in 1977. Fuiks repeated the feat in 1978 and was a co-medalist in 1979.
Fuiks is currently married to the same David Leadbetter who coaches Michelle Wie.
Moreover, Fuiks grew up playing golf at Papago Park, the renowned Arizona muni that also spawned Billy Mayfair and Tom Purtzer, among others. The LPGA recently announced it had shifted its Phoenix event, the last tune-up before Kraft Nabisco, from Superstition Mountain to Papago Park.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: The San Jose Mercury reports that, according to tournament officials, several CEOs of well-known companies politely declined invitations to participate in this weeks AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The reason: The appearance of executives taking time off for a televised event at a high-end resort environment during a severe economic downturn may not send the right message.
They dont feel good about being here with their companies laying off people and all, tournament official Ollie Nutt told the newspaper. The entry fee for an amateur is $14,500.
PET PEEVE OF THE WEEK: People who wait until its their turn on the tee to begin telling a story. Nothing promotes slow play more. Theres virtually nothing the other three members of the group can do short of being properly annoyed and telling the player to tell his or her story walking.
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