In a week where “staying horizontal” has become a buzz phrase in golf, Michelle Wie is going vertical. The ‘Big Wiesy’ opened with a 3-under-par 70 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, good enough for a tie for 17th place through one round of play. She took 27 putts with a more traditional, upright posture.
“I’m finally back to the regular stance,” Wie said prior to the start of the week. “My coach and I have been working on it and just trying to be a little bit more flowing, a little more athletic.”
Wie adopted the “table-top” strategy midway through 2014 and famously won the U.S. Open with the physically unique style. Her six-foot frame magnified the look, where she bent at a 90-degree angle, positioning her eyes directly over the ball and down the line. It allowed for a pendulum-style stroke. While it produced a major championship, the results were mixed.
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Wie ranked fourth in putts and greens in regulation in 2014 and 42nd in putting average on the LPGA Tour. Those numbers deteriorated from there, bottoming out at 120th in putts per GIR last season, when she missed 12 cuts and registered just one top 20 finish. At a crossroads, and with two weeks off early this season, a change was inevitable.
“I stuck with the table top for very long and you know, sometimes you just need a different feel and just try and get out and it feels comfortable,” she added.
One round down under is a small sample size, but it did represent her second-lowest score in relation to par in her last 33 rounds, dating back to June of last year. She did her research and put in the time to find a new fit, employing the claw grip with her upright stance.
“I definitely Googled ‘the claw,'” she joked. “You should see my research searches, I Googled every one and I liked Phil’s claw, Sergio’s claw. I tried everything out and it feels good. It kind of is fun to try out different grips — it’s amazing how you can make putts doing pretty much anything, but this feels most comfortable to me and, we’ll see.”