What Wie Really Needs

mulligan, 06 June 2006, Comments Off on What Wie Really Needs
Categories: Uncategorized

Typically, I would just place my comments under Mulligan’s post, but I figured that my thoughts along with Mulligan’s might spur some good debate; therefore, I decided to create a response post.

Luckily, I was able to watch Michelle make her three consecutive bogies. And, unlike Mulligan, who stated, “what Michelle needs: Help putting — a new putter, putting style, or putting lesson”, I believe Michelle needs something else.

Everyone knows that Michelle is not the best putter in the world. And, that her putting has cost her chances to do some amazing things. However, instead of enlisting Dave Pelz or some other putting guru, I would argue that Michelle needs something different. EXPERIENCE!!

When Michelle played the par 4 4th hole on the North Course at Canoe Brook CC, I paid attention to Michelle’s body and reactions to her shots. Typically, when Michelle is playing well, she has the million dollar smile and almost floats around the golf course. However, when she hooked her drive into the rough on the 4th, the smile was starting to disappear and you could see her feet slowly moving toward the ground. She was grinding and trying to push to make a few more birdies and make the cut. Who can blame her, she was attempting to do something that few people would ever have imagined, qualify for the US Open.

When Michelle arrived at her ball, she has approximately 100 yards from the hole with a tree in her way. Her caddy probably made sure that Michelle hit her ball over the tree and safely onto the green, instead of trying to hit a “miracle” shot that would give her a tap-in birdie. Unfortunately for Michelle, this is when I felt the “dream”, at least for this year, was over.

Michelle’s demeanor and facial expressions turned from happy-go-lucky to oh-my-gosh what am I supposed to do. Everyone has felt what I believe she was feeling.

Remember, the first time you broke 100, 90, 80, 70, or par? Or maybe I should say, the time when you realized that all you needed to do was make triple on the last hole to shoot 89, but instead you made a quad? Instead of attacking the course, like you had done on the previous 17 holes, you were so worried about the “prize”, breaking 90, that you forgot what you were doing and got so out of rhythm that you choked. I know that I feel it all the time, when I get a few shots under par, when suddenly, I get extremely tense and do not perform as well as I had done on the previous holes. Usually, providing my scorecard a typical FUAB – F*** Up After Birdie.

Anyways, back to Michelle. Watching her play a few holes prior to the 4th, she was striding along confidently and when she missed a makeable putt, she would go up and tap it in, moving onto the next hole. However, did anyone notice what she did prior to hitting the putt on the 4th? It seemed to me, that she took more time over the ball. And, after she hit the putt, she was giving her Nike a “whoa” sign with her right hand. (You know, the palm pushing the air towards the ground). It was almost like before she putted, she couldn’t decide whether she was going to try to make it, leaving a potential 4-5 footer (which she was unsure she was going to make) or she was going to lag it up to the hole, tap it in, and wait until the next hole. Obviously, she hit a fairly poor putt, and left herself, what appeared to be, a fairly routine 3 footer. A 3 footer that she did not want to putt.

As she got up over that 3 footer, it appeared that she performed an abnormal routine. I thought I saw a few more waggles, body shakes, whatever, it just looked as though she never got comfortable over it. Then, she missed hard left, pulled her hat down over her face, and probably said a few choice words. However, I knew at that point, the dream was over…

Michelle then proceeded to miss another short putt on 5 (a 3 putt) and bogied 6.

So, Mulligan, you can argue that she needs a good putting lesson. But, I don’t think that a putting lesson is what she needs. What she needs is more experience! She needs to have some experiences to fall back on and to instill confidence in her, in order to get her through the “tough” times in golf and to jump the hurdles that will come in front of her. How do you think Tiger won 6 straight USGA Amateur events? Yes, some of it was luck, some of it was obviously skill, but most importantly, he knew that he could do it. He had done it all of his life. He was a trained athlete who knew how to win and how to keep himself composed for those “tough” moments.

I don’t want to speculate on whether Michelle will ever qualify for the US Open, but I believe that she has the ability to do so. Nevertheless, watching her play yesterday, I noticed that she is still only 16 years old. She gets ahead of herself. And, most importantly, she has very few “winning” experiences to fall back on. She has never made a 5 footer to “win” an LPGA tournament or other “Big” tournament. She has always been the bridesmaid, doing great things for the game with the talent she possesses, but I believe she won’t be able to take her game to the “Next Level” without some positive, winning experiences to get her through those times when she really needs it. She will do it, but we are going to have to wait.

Just like the first time I broke par, it took me several times to miss out before I finally shot a round under par, but once I did it, I always knew that I was capable of doing it again! Michelle, you will do many great things, but don’t go to a putting guru, make some experiences that you will be able to fall back on in those times when you really need it!


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