MICHELLE WIE’S 5 WAYS

Why the US Open cham­pion had a break­out year in 2014.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 2/ 15 - With Ron Kaspriske

WIN­NING THE US OPEN IN 2014... it still seems surreal. When I was grow­ing up, I wanted to win that tour­na­ment so badly, and now that I have, I’m still try­ing to come to grips with the long road it took to get here. I had in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences last year – it was a real break­through for me. Be­sides win­ning the Open, I won another LPGA Tour event, fin­ished sec­ond in the sea­son’s first ma­jor (the Kraft Nabisco) and third in two other events. So why now? Why, at age 24, almost nine years after I turned pro, am I play­ing my best? Well, a lot has changed about my game and my at­ti­tude to­wards golf. In talk­ing to my coach, David Lead­bet­ter, we be­lieve it’s a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that has made the dif­fer­ence – five, to be ex­act. We’d like to share those things here, in hopes that they can do for you what they did for me. What I’ve learned from my turn­around can be summed up in a quote from Win­ston Churchill: “A pes­simist sees the dif­fi­culty in ev­ery op­por­tu­nity; an op­ti­mist sees the op­por­tu­nity in ev­ery dif­fi­culty.” – WITH RON KASPRISKE

1 I’M LOVING HIT­TING DRIVER

Last year I re­ally took ad­van­tage of my length off the tee. I used to pull out a fair­way wood or hy­brid on tight holes, but I’ve reached a point where I don’t care that I’m not go­ing to be that player who hits 14 fair­ways. I’m go­ing to be in the trees some­times. But as long as my drives go some­what in the right di­rec­tion, I’m good with that. And be­sides, I’m not so bad out of the trees.

LEAD­BET­TER:

The les­son for the av­er­age golfer here is, swing your driver with con­fi­dence – and that means let it fly. If you trust your driver, the dis­tance you’ll gain will trans­late into shorter ap­proach shots. Michelle went from hit­ting 69 per­cent of greens in 2013 to 77 per­cent in 2014. More greens in reg means lower scores.

2 I’M PHYS­I­CALLY STRONGER

I used to think I had strong legs, but when I started work­ing with my trainer, David Donatucci, we found that wasn’t true. I was a long hit­ter when I was young, but my lack of lower-body strength made me in­con­sis­tent. So I re­ally got fo­cused on mak­ing my legs, glutes and hips stronger, and now my swing is more sta­ble. That means I can con­sis­tently hit the ball hard. I don’t have to force my­self to get into good po­si­tions. Now it comes nat­u­rally.

LEAD­BET­TER:

If you’re go­ing to hit it long, your lower body has to help out. It needs to be sta­ble when you take the club back, so you can wind your up­per body. And it has to pro­vide support and lever­age the ground when you swing down to help gen­er­ate club­head speed. Golfers should spend a good por­tion of their work­outs strength­en­ing the lower body, specif­i­cally the quads and glutes, to im­prove their tech­nique.

3 MY SWING IS EAS­IER TO RE­PEAT

When I was a kid, I had an ex­tra-long swing like so many ju­niors do. But a while back I sat down with David and told him my No 1 goal was con­sis­tency. That led to short­en­ing my swing, mak­ing it more com­pact. I don’t take the club back as far as I used to with my arms, but I’m still mak­ing a full turn and gen­er­at­ing a lot of torque. It’s much eas­ier to con­trol the ball when you don’t have a long arm swing that re­lies on tim­ing. There’s less chance I’ll make a mis­take and hit a bad shot now that my swing is shorter.

LEAD­BET­TER:

Con­sis­tency comes from no wasted mo­tion. A three-quar­ter-length arm swing with a full up­per-body turn will help you hit the ball solidly time after time. The short­ened swing also will help you keep the club in front of your body com­ing down. That makes it eas­ier to square the club­face at im­pact and hit the ball on line.

4 MY PUTTING STYLE WORKS

I get a lot of com­ments about my putting pos­ture. David likes to call it “ta­ble-top putting,” be­cause I’m so bent over. I used to putt stand­ing tall, but I had a re­ally hard time con­nect­ing to the ball. I couldn’t see the line as well or feel com­fort­able with my dis­tance con­trol. This style puts me lower to the ground, so I can see the line. It also helps elim­i­nate any wrist ac­tion. I don’t know if I’ll keep do­ing it, but for now it’s work­ing for me.

LEAD­BET­TER:

This is the one area of the game where you can be in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic. If an un­con­ven­tional style or grip feels right, go with it. No one ever crit­i­cised Jack Nick­laus for his hunched-over putting stance. But what­ever you choose, make sure to take the hands out of the stroke. You want to rock your shoul­ders with­out in­de­pen­dent hand move­ment.

5 I GOT MY PAS­SION BACK

I love golf again. I can’t wait to get out on the course and prac­tice. I re­mem­ber a time when it was grind, grind, grind, and I didn’t see any re­sults. Now I’m see­ing re­sults, and that’s partly be­cause of my at­ti­tude. Plus, I know much more about my swing. The ball is do­ing what I want it to do. That breeds con­fi­dence. Now when things go wrong, I know why, and I can fix them. In other words, I can just play.

LEAD­BET­TER:

Whether you’re fight­ing through an in­jury or have had a spurt of bad play, it’s easy to sour on the game. Re­mind your­self why you started play­ing golf: You en­joy it. Draw on the swing thoughts that worked when you were play­ing bet­ter, and try to stay up­beat. Your game will come around.

‘ I SET UP LOWER TO THE GROUND NOW WHEN I GET OVER PUTTS. I CAN SEE THE LINE BET­TER.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.