Leadbetter: Wie’s issues more mental than physical

By Randall MellApril 27, 2016, 10:03 pm

David Leadbetter has never worked with a player like Michelle Wie.

She fascinates and frustrates him. She intrigues and infuriates him. She makes him both marvel and worry over the possibilities she still possesses.

Leadbetter says he loves Wie like a daughter, and it’s why he isn’t afraid to say things she might not like to hear. They’ve been to hell and back together since she was 13.

It’s why as Wie works through yet another physical malady getting ready for Thursday’s start of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, Leadbetter isn’t afraid to say Wie’s head is as much a key to unlocking her potential as her body is.

“For me, it’s more a mental thing with Michelle now rather than physical,” Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com. “She has to come to terms with what she wants to do, what she wants to achieve and how she wants to achieve it.

“She is very low on confidence right now. She really hasn’t had any good tournaments to speak of this year. She played OK at the ANA, but the last few months certainly haven’t been to anybody’s liking.”

Leadbetter is not saying the physical maladies Wie faces again are not real.

Wie, 26, withdrew from the Swinging Skirts Classic after 15 holes Sunday with neck spasms. She was 11 over par when she walked off the course. It marked three missed cuts and one WD in her seven full-field starts this year. She was treated by the San Francisco 49ers team chiropractor before leaving California and again by the LPGA’s physiotherapists at the tour’s sports medicine trailer at the Texas Shootout after arriving for the event this week. She abandoned the neck brace she was given to play a nine-hole practice round Tuesday and a nine-hole pro-am round Wednesday.

“She doesn’t know how she hurt her neck, whether she slept on it funny or what,” Leadbetter said. “It got to the point where she could hardly turn her neck at all, and if you can’t rotate your neck, you’re going to have trouble rotating your spine. She’s just very injury prone. I call her a walking cadaver. I’m not sure she hasn’t had any part of her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury.”

Wie said Wednesday her neck is feeling better, and she’s expecting to play this week.

“It’s just weird the way the injury came about,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn't be able to play, but I saw my chiropractor, and I've been working with the physios on tour, and it's been feeling a lot better.”

Leadbetter knows the backlash Wie will get teeing it up again just four days after her withdrawal.

“I have no doubt it was a genuine injury,” he said.

Wie battled left hip, knee and ankle injuries most of last season. She endured a deep bone bruise in the index finger of her right hand after winning the U.S. Women’s Open the year before. She has battled through injuries to both of her wrists, through a severely sprained ankle and through a bulging disc in her back in the past.

Leadbetter believes Wie’s short, tightly coiled swing led to her hip, knee and ankle injuries last year, and while he isn’t saying her neck spasms are related, he still sees her putting stress on her body with her swing in ways that worry him. At this year’s start, Leadbetter delivered Wie a “tough-love message,” asking her to quit relentlessly tinkering with her swing and to commit to sticking with a more free flowing motion, with a bigger hip turn that would promote a more rhythmic tempo. Wie likes to restrict her hips and tightly coil around them. Leadbetter is still seeing more of that this year than he likes.

“Overall, her swing is more nice and full,” Leadbetter said. “She doesn’t have these short punches going, but she’s still tinkering a little bit more than I would like. We’ve been trying to get her natural and flowing, but Michelle has her own ideas about how things should be done. She is a very determined, single-minded person. Some of the things, I’m not in total agreement with, but in the end she has to make the decision. Again, I do like the fact that she’s back to a full swing.”

What concerns Leadbetter is how Wie is still coiling so hard around a restricted hip turn.

“I would like to see more lower body movement,” Leadbetter said. “It’s amazing she can swing it back as far as she does with that limited amount of hip rotation. The hip movement gives you your rhythm, your flow and alleviates any tendency to have lower body injuries.

“In her youth, Michelle had the ability to have a full windup with zero hip turn. You look at players today, and for the most part, there is a 45-degree hip rotation. Michelle has about a 15-degree hip rotation.”

Leadbetter said Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and Lotte Championship two years ago with that tight coil around a limited hip turn. She looked close to dominating with her ball striking in that four- to five-month run, but even then Leadbetter worried what the violent torque was doing to her body.

What Leadbetter likes is the desire he still sees in Wie, the determination to find the sharp ball striking that led to her resurgence of confidence in 2014.

“I read all this nonsense that she has lost her desire, and that's a bunch of hooey,” Leadbetter said. “She works her butt off.

“She is an intriguing character, almost maddening and infuriating, because I know how good this girl is, what she can do. You just want to somehow push her, say `Come on, let's see if we can get to that level we know you're capable of.’ I'm sure it's got to be frustrating to her, and to her parents, because she has these glimpses, but then all of a sudden, it's like it disappears. It would be a heck of a story if she really gets hot again, but I can tell you she is not out there quitting.”

Leadbetter is there helping, sometimes with words Wie doesn’t want to hear.

“You just never know when someone’s game is going to rebound,” Leadbetter said. “Hopefully, she gets a couple good runs under her belt going and that gives her a little bit of confidence. That's really what she needs more than anything else right now.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”