by Jeff Skinner
Few golfers have had to deal with grand expectations like the former teenage phenom Michelle Wie. Since the time she’s been twelve years old she has been on the national golf scene. Wie was slapped with any and every title that even had the hint of “potential.” Much of it was due to her phenomenal golf skills but plenty of it was due to the way she was handled during her early years. Remember, Michelle was playing on the PGA Tour long before she had ever sniffed a win on the LPGA Tour.
Now at twenty two, even with two LPGA Tour wins the pressure is squarely on Wie’s shoulders. For the past four years she has split her time between professional golf and enjoying her life at Standard University. With college life behind her she’s now a full time golfer, and she’s expected to produce.
To put it mildly her 2012 season has been disappointing: only two made cuts in five tries, $12,536 in earnings and a missed cut at the course she grew up on. By any measure it’s been a poor start but Wie is taking some action.
She has spent plenty of time with her swing coach David Leadbetter to tighten up her game but has also enlisted the help of Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of the Vision 54 program.
For a long time Wie’s putting game has been in decline, whether she uses a regulation or her current long putter, she appears lost on the greens. Leadbetter thinks it’s mental. “Michelle’s putting stroke isn’t yippy,” Leadbetter said. “I think it’s more a mental issue.” “Michelle’s a tinkerer,” Leadbetter said. “She changes putters, she changes her grip.”
Nillson and Marriott have had great success working with players. They can claim Annika Sorenstam as their prime student and by any measure that’s success.
Vision 54 addresses more than the technical side of the game. Their philosophy: “The belief that the physical, technical, mental, emotional, social and spirit of the game elements of golf must come together in balance is at the very heart of the VISION54 coaching focus that has profoundly changed the game for so many players.”
Wie has all the physical skills and for a long time it has been other parts of her game that have held her back. She couldn’t have made a better decision to address her shortcomings. It is the mental and emotional elements of her game that need to be addressed.
If Nilsson and Marriott have any success with Wie it will be her putting that shows it first. And it couldn’t come at a better time for Wie. It’s time to start making some putts and playing up to her potential.
The LPGA season is now swinging into high gear and it is time for Michelle to show that she can be a major player for the LPGA.