By Andrew Both
IBARAKI, Japan (Reuters) – Michelle Wie appears to be back to close to her best nearly two months after an emergency appendectomy, and she probably would have got there sooner were it not for issues with her clubs.
There is an old saying that a good worker never blames his or her tools, but it seems Wie had every justification for doing so.
She wondered why something was not quite right with her game at last week’s LPGA event in Malaysia, but it took a while to identify the problem, and an absolute shocker with a three-wood, for her to realize that her clubs were the cause.
“I hit one shot that went like 30 degrees right and I looked at the face and it was concaved a little bit,” Wie told Reuters after finishing equal 46th at the TOTO Japan Classic on Sunday.
“I looked at the five-wood and driver and they were all looking the same.
“It was weird. I’ve never had that happen before. It wasn’t obvious. Broken club is the last thing you think of. It just took a while for me to figure it out.”
Wie think her clubs got damaged traveling, though it will always remain a mystery.
Whatever the cause, she was able to get them replaced here before the first round, but pro golfers will tell you that no two clubs feel exactly the same, even if they have the identical specifications.
“You can get the exact same shaft and the exact same head and they’re different,” said the 28-year-old from Hawaii, whose four LPGA victories include the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s such a personal connection you have with your club. Playing with broken clubs the last couple of weeks, you’re so used to seeing a certain shot. It just took a while for me to get used to it and trust my shots.”
A while maybe, but not too long. After opening with a 76, Wie found her groove and went 11 shots better in the second round before closing with a 70 to finish 14 strokes behind winner Shanshan Feng.
Healthy again, and now with undamaged clubs, Wie is bullish about her future.
She missed six weeks after her appendix forced her to pull out of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open before the final round in August and have the organ removed.
She has played four LPGA events in Asia since returning to action, and admits it has taken a while to get to the stage where she feels good about her game.
“I felt incredibly rusty,” Wie said.
“It just took me a while to get back in tournament (form) and the last two days I’ve just felt like my old self, really getting back into it.
“I’m really excited about the next two weeks,” she concluded, referring to this week’s Blue Bay LPGA in China, followed by the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond)