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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Wie's coach says Nike designer customizing driver for long-hitting teenager

USA Today

Some LPGA players including Michelle Wie are beginning to push the boundaries of how far they can hit a golf ball.

Wie's coach, David Leadbetter, says Nike designer Tom Stites is working to customize a 2-wood/hybrid driver to help Wie better manage tee shots on the shorter LPGA tour courses.

It would be a smaller-headed club with 11 degrees of loft, allowing her to cover a distance gap between the 8.5-degree driver and 13- to 15-degree 3-woods she carries.

"A lot of times, if she hits it 300 yards, you run out of real estate," Leadbetter said. "She often has a lot of decisions she has to make, because her driver can be too much club on LPGA courses."

Wie ranked fifth in driving distance at 293 yards in the Fields Open at Ko Olina. She's added about 5 mph to her swing speed, Leadbetter says, and now reaches 108 mph.

By comparison, Annika Sorenstam swings about 105 mph. Tiger Woods' swing speed has been measured in the mid-120s.