A Caddie's Notes: Kim is rising star and Wie's wrist looks strong
I was fortunate enough to spend last week inside the ropes at the U.S. Women's Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota. I had double duty, both coaching and caddying, and let me tell you, caddying at a U.S. Open is definitely so much more demanding than any other event I’ve been around. Virtually every hole at Interlachen has a false front and is sloped from back to front (except No. 4). You are always giving yardages to safe landing areas, rather than just to the pin.
I caddied and worked with Kimberly Kim, and we made the best of a tough week. There were personal distractions going on that were outside of everyone’s control, which made it almost impossible for Kim to play her normal game. However, I just want to say that this 16-year-old girl is mature beyond her years and has so much game, that even when her mind is elsewhere, it is still obvious that she can be one of the elite players in the game. Actually if she had a better caddie (I wasn’t as good as I should have been) who could have directed her better on holes 3, 9 and 17, we would have been in contention going into the weekend. I am not making any excuses, but rather complimenting Kim on how well she did with a poor caddie and numerous distractions.
We were paired with Michelle Wie on Thursday and Friday, and I'm pretty sure her wrist is very healthy. I can't speak for her, but she hit some phenomenal punch shots with her irons, hybrids and fairway woods. Those shots require a lot of strength and support from the hands, wrists and forearms, not to mention the jarring that comes from the trapping motion against the ground. She hit a ton of very good pitches showing great feel, and rolled the ball well while having to cope with a bunch of putts that looked like they should have gone in. The only thing I did notice was the angle of attack on her driver wasn't conducive to hitting a ton of fairways. (This may have just been a couple days of reverting to old habits.) Her downswing is very narrow and her body motion is not helping her catch the ball on a more level attack. She is catching her driver with too much of a downward attack resulting in a lot of blocked shots, and a spin rate that is too high. When that gets worked out, I think Michelle will be playing the type of golf she expects from herself, and the type that will be good for the LPGA Tour.
Speaking of the tour, I do have one point of contention. Stacy Lewis made $162,487 for her T3 finish last week. I believe that is enough money to earn her a tour card for 2009, but the LPGA is not counting money earned from the Open toward her place on the money list. I would really love to know the logic behind this. You are going to penalize a girl for finishing third in the biggest event of the year? Is the LPGA really intentionally trying to keep the best players off of their tour? I'm pretty certain that Stacy will still earn enough in the remaining events to earn her card, but if by chance, she doesn't, the LPGA should seriously re-evaluate their view and apologize for getting this one wrong.
Finally, to the people of Minnesota, thank you for the amazing hospitality. Everyone was extremely kind and supportive, which made for great crowds. Hopefully Minnesota stays on the top of the USGA’s list so that these great fans will continually be rewarded with seeing the best players on the planet, having an amazing time on an amazing golf course.