Date: February 14, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Wie says goodbye to the ‘tabletop’


Michelle Wie has changed her putting style yet again.

On the eve of the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, Wie admitted that the controversial 'table-top' stance had gone, replaced by a traditional stance and coupled with a new, 'claw' grip similar to Sergio Garcia's.

The American spent at least three years using the 'tabletop', where she hinged almost 90 degrees at the back, a bizarre method that she devised herself in a vain attempt to find some results on the putting surfaces. Putting has been a constant problem for Wie through her career, and in the Bahamas recently she hit 34 of 36 greens in two rounds of the season-opener, yet made just three birdies.

But her coach, David Leadbetter, who was not a fan of the tabletop, has finally won the battle to abandon that method. "My coach and I have been working on it, just trying to be a bit more flowing, a bit more athletic,'' said Wie. "I stuck with the table top for very long, and sometimes you just need a different feel. I'm trying it out and it feels comfortable.''

Wie said she used a particularly common research method for a new grip. "I've tried every single type of claw in the last two weeks that I was practising, but this feels good. I definitely googled the claw, I googled everyone. I looked at Phil's (Mickelson's) claw, Sergio's claw, I tried everything out and it feels good. It's amazing how you can make putts doing pretty much anything, and this feels the most comfortable to me, so we'll see.''

At 27, Wie seems to have been around forever, and she admits that with the brigade of young players emerging she feels like a veteran, joking that "your friend gives you wrinkle cream for your birthday''.

But she has done a fine job of not being worn down by the game, even after a dreadful 2016 season when the aftermath of injuries saw her make just 13 of 25 cuts, with just one top-10 finish, and her world ranking plummet to 182nd. In the season-opener in the Bahamas she missed the cut again. "I'm just glad 2016 is over and got to the end of the year. It was a tough year. There's no talking around that or making it sound pretty. It was a tough year for me but it was also a growing year. ''

But in her return to Australia after a gap of three years, she says the love of the game remains.

"I love being out here,'' she said. "I love the game. I love trying to get better every day, and especially having a tough year last year, you're definitely more motivated to go out there and work harder than anyone else. It feels good to go out there and it always feel great you've done everything that day, and you sleep better at night.''

A theme for the 2017 season is fun, with Wie saying she has tried not to focus on performance.

"I want to go out there and have fun, get some good pairings and some good banter out there. That's when I play my best.''