Monday, April 03, 2006

Too Chip or Putt?

Whoever is instructing Michelle Wie on the chipping and putting aspect of the game should also work with her a little more on how to think around the green. A poor thought process on the 72nd green of the Kraft Nabisco Championship may have cost her her first major title. Wie needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to tie Karrie Webb. A driver and a 5-iron put her 25 feet away just over the green with about five feet of fringe to clear. Wie elected to chip the ball and juiced it a bit. It ran about ten feet past. She made a good putt at the birdie that would have tied but it missed.

Somewhere along the line someone has taught her that if you want to sink it, chip it. Perhaps that’s true, perhaps not. That’s another discussion. What’s at fault here is her thinking process. Someone has failed to teach her how to think the situation through completely. She did not need to sink it “at all costs.” Yes, it might have been the ultimate in drama had she sunk the chip, but that’s not what she needed at this point. She needed a sure four with a chance at a possible three. She needed to play the shot that gave her the highest percentage to accomplish that. Using the putter to get down in two from 25 feet was not a difficult task. Two putts give her a tie and, if she gets a little lucky, the ball goes in and she wins. By using the putter she would have almost certainly have put herself in the playoff which started on the same 18th hole where she would have had a definitive advantage.

But that’s what makes major champions: smart decisions and the proper time.

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