Golf

Wie tries new tack with her putting

Michelle Wie has adopted a distinctive putting stroke.
GolfWeek Beth Ann Baldry
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PHOENIX

The LPGA Tour on Thursday kicked off 2013 for a second time. It’s the first time American golf fans can watch Round 1 of an LPGA Tour event live on television. The first time they can comment on Twitter about Paula Creamer’s bumble-bee outfit or see Michelle Wie’s uber awkward putting posture in person.

(It’s even more shocking than what you see on TV.)

The RR Donnelley Founders Cup, a tribute to the women who started this tour in 1950, is the start of the LPGA Tour’s domestic schedule. In order to greet the game’s newest generation, three LPGA founders were seated behind the 18th green: Louise Suggs, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith. Pioneers Joanne Carner and Carol Mann were also on hand for autographs and comic relief.

Here are Five Things from the desert:

1. Starting hot

Ai Miyazato shot 30 on the back nine at Wildfire Golf Club to notch a tournament-record 9-under 63 on a warm spring day. No one would ever guess it was snowing last week in Phoenix, given that temperatures now are in the 90s and scores in the 60s.

Miyazato went birdie-eagle-birdie-eagle on Nos. 14-17 to close out her round. She hit 13 greens and had 23 putts.

“I just had a good feeling this morning,” said Miyazato, who has a house in Phoenix where she works with Vision54 mental gurus Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott.

Miyazato was one of three players (along with Suzann Pettersen and Paula Creamer) involved in a five-car pileup in Thailand several weeks ago.

She withdrew from Singapore as a precautionary measure and went back to Japan.

“I think I had a nice time off, and now I feel fine,” Miyazato said.

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Creamer, however, has two discs in her neck that are out of place, and her right shoulder is tight from hitting against the dashboard. She gets soft-tissue therapy two times a day.

“It could’ve been so much worse,” said Creamer, who opened with a 69.

2. Wie on the greens

When it comes to putting woes, Beth Daniel knows players will try anything to get out of a funk. The Hall of Famer went through the dreaded yips several times in her own career.

Watching Michelle Wie putt bent over from her waist at a 90-degree angle, however, is something Daniel has never seen before. She worries about the stress Wie is putting on her lower spine and whether or not she can actually see the line from that angle.

“People ask me how to get over the yips,” said Daniel. “You basically have to change the history of what you’re doing. That’s why you see people change putting grips, because they don’t have a history of missing left-hand low. . . . And she has been through a lot of stuff already.”

Wie had 33 putts in Round 1 at Wildfire Golf Club and shot 2-over 74. Safe to say, she’s still searching.

3. From bad to good

Candie Kung opened with a 6-under 66 despite hitting two shots on the club face.

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“I have absolutely no idea how those balls went in,” Kung said, “but I was able to miss my shot close to the hole.” Kung said she planned to go the range to “work it out.”

Brittany Lang matched Kung’s number but had very different things to say about her round, calling it “extremely easy.”

She birdied all the par 5s and hit 16 of 18 greens.

The LPGA debuted a new player guide this year, and in it, Lang notes she was a “bad kid” growing up. When asked to elaborate, Lang said she didn’t have any stories.

“Everybody who knew me growing up tells me that I was awful,” she said.

Can’t imagine her parents complain too much now.

4. Nothing but a number

Juli Inkster, the ageless wonder, opened with a 4-under 68 in Phoenix. The 52-year-old plans to play a full schedule this year. She’s not really interested in talking about her age or the Solheim Cup, but close friend and US captain Meg Mallon said that if Inkster qualified on points, she’d play. Even if Inkster says otherwise.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

5. New No. 1 in town?

Both Stacy Lewis and Na Yeon Choi could overtake Yani Tseng in the rankings this week if either wins. Tseng has been ranked No. 1 for 109 weeks.

If Lewis wins and Tseng finishes third or worse, then Lewis tops Tseng. If Choi wins and Tseng finishes fourth or worse, then Choi will be No. 1.

When a reporter told Lewis, who is paired with Tseng the first two rounds, that she had a chance of becoming No. 1 this week, she jokingly put a finger in each ear and said la-la-la.

No pressure.

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