Park, Wie prepare differently for Pinehurst

Michelle Wie talks to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and fellow LPGA player Jessica Korda while preparing for the 2014 U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 by walking the course during the final round of the men's championship.

PINEHURST, N.C. – On the advice of her caddie, Inbee Park recently watched YouTube videos of herself winning majors last year. Mostly, Brad Beecher wanted her to look at her putting stroke. She’s had a tough time getting the ball online all season.

The result: Park closed with a 61 the following week in Canada to win for the first time in 2014.

“The rhythm,” Park said when asked what she noticed. “Try to stroke it a little bit more to the ground.”

Look out, girls.

Park teed off in the first group at 6:45 a.m. Monday at Pinehurst. She toured all 18 at No. 2 for the first time and found it similar to a British Open venue. When asked if she’d gone in any divots, Park noted that the collection areas around the greens had been covered in mesh.

“I see around the grounds where everyone’s ball has been is ending up and there’s a lot of divots around the greens,” she said. “I think the men could’ve gotten a wedge on it when they had a perfect lie, but for us I think if it’s in a divot we don’t have a choice.”

Park, the 2008 and ’13 U.S. Women’s Open champion, has only gone to a Women’s Open championship in advance of tournament week one time in her career. That was back in 2009, the only time she has finished outside the top 10 at this event.

After securing her 10th LPGA career title at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on June 8, Park flew with Beecher and her fiance, swing coach Gi Hyeob Nam, to Las Vegas where she recently bought a home. She also lived there as a junior player back when she worked with Butch Harmon, prior to working with Nam.

While Park came out to the course Sunday to do a television interview alongside Paula Creamer on NBC and practice, she chose not to join several of her peers inside the ropes watching the action. Instead Park conserved energy and followed Martin Kaymer’s majestic play on TV, taking careful notes around the greens.

On Monday she used her putter, wedges and hybrids around the demanding Donald Ross design.

“They’re all hard,” she said of the options.

Beecher watched Kaymer and Justin Rose on Sunday, and had this to say about the gender comparison: “It’s a different game of golf. They’re hitting shots into these holes that the women would never dream of.”

While the men were hitting driver/wedge into the 18th, Park smashed a driver and then hit 4 rescue. She hit 5-iron into the par-3 sixth and 17th holes. She hit 5-wood into the par-4 11th and 16th.

The USGA has the course setup listed as a par-70 at 6,649 yards, but the actual number will likely be shorter. Temperatures in Pinehurst are expected to soar into the upper 90s.

The course was closed to spectators Monday as workers took down parts of the 18th grandstand. The scoreboards are empty. Talk has turned from Kaymer’s dominance to 11-year-old Lucy Li, the pint-sized kid from California who will have all she can handle and then some this week.

Michelle Wie, who played 18 holes alongside good friend Jessica Korda on Monday morning, experimented with different shots around the greens. Instructor David Leadbetter was here last week for several days during the men’s tournament and noted that for all the different clubs PGA Tour players pulled around the greens, in the end, they mostly used a putter.

And with chip shots running out 6-8 feet past the hole, Leadbetter said his student would be spending a fair amount of time on the practice greens working from that range.

Wie spoke with Rory McIlroy after Sunday’s round looking for nuggets and took the yardage books of Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler.

“I told them to put some extra good notes for me,” she said. “There’s only a couple inappropriate comments in there.”

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