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Long and Strong - Michelle Wie's Swing
Gary Gilchrist

The first time I saw Michelle Wie hit balls, in February 2002, she was pounding shots over a driving-range fence 265 yards away. I knew right away that she had a gift (anyone who hits shots like that at age 12 has a gift), and I felt she would soon be capable of competing at the highest level. Michelle proved me right in 2003, when she won the US Women's Amateur Public Links, tied for ninth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and competed in 10
other high-profile tournaments, from the US Women's Open to Canadian Tour and Nationwide Tour events.

When I started coaching Michelle, two years ago, her grip was too strong (her hands were turned too far to the right at address), and she swung too steeply, lifting the club up in her backswing and attacking the ball with an inside-out swing. This caused her to block shots to the right or to close the clubface at impact, producing a big hook.

We worked on fundamentals such as posture (stand tall, bend forward from the hips) and balance (you want to feel your weight in the balls of your feet), and I got her to use a
neutral grip and to swing with a more circular, or rotational, motion. The result is a more consistent, controlled swing, which is vital for a player with such power.

Michelle's ultimate goal is to play on both the PGA and the LPGA Tours. Given her overall makeup as a player and her belief that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to, I think she'll reach her goal - her performance against the men at the Sony Open in Hawaii certainly proved her talent. She has a build that allows her to swing with great rhythm, poise and power. And she's very smart, but she doesn't overanalyse her shots; she just gets up and hits the ball, and she is comfortable making her own
decisions.

All of these attributes make Michelle a unique player; someone you'll be hearing even more about in years to come.



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