Leadbetter: Wie playing PGA events is OK
FARMINGTON, Pa. » Should Michelle Wie continue to play PGA Tour events? Who better to answer that question than David Leadbetter, her coach.
"As long as people want to see her, and she's learning and it doesn't affect her psyche, I think a sprinkling of them periodically within the master plan is fine," he says.
Don't expect missed cuts to derail Wie's goal of someday playing the men's tour.
"She is an extraordinary person," Leadbetter says. "She's resilient. She looks upon this as an adventure."
Her resilience was severely tested at this week's 84 Lumber Classic, where she missed the cut by 13 strokes yesterday, shooting 14-over-par 158. Mystic River Golf Course (7,550 yards) is the longest PGA Tour venue Wie has played.
Complicating matters was rain early in the week that left the course saturated. Lift, clean and place was in effect. Wie couldn't count on getting much roll with her shots. She is a big hitter against women, but not in a men's field. Her official driving average was 263.8 at the 84 Lumber Classic.
So it was a difficult course for Wie, the sort that can bring out weaknesses.
"Because of the length, you really can't make any mistakes," Leadbetter says. "If she misses a fairway, it's not the easiest course to get up and down. It's a very tough test."
And Wie had no momentum coming into the event after missing the cut against men a week ago at the Omega European Masters on the European Tour. Leadbetter believes missed cuts against men, particularly the last two weeks, have overshadowed the superb LPGA season Wie has fashioned in 2006.
Consider her accomplishments in the four LPGA majors: Kraft Nabisco Championship (T3); McDonald's LPGA Championship (T5); U.S. Women's Open (T3); and Weetabix Women's British Open (T26). Also: Fields Open in Hawaii (3); Women's World Match Play Championship (T5, advanced to third round); and Evian Masters (T2).
Leadbetter suggests Wie look at PGA Tour events as if they are LPGA majors.
"And prepare for them accordingly," he says. "She can't go into a men's event and just show up and play. There's no margin for error. She has to be always on top of her game."
If she does that, as Wie matures and polishes her game, missed cuts in men's events might become a thing of the past.
"Certainly, at some stage down the road," Leadbetter says, "she has the capability of competing on the men's tour and possibly winning."