Tiger has a problem putting. When I mention this, golfers usually go NUTZ and ask "what-ve-you been smokin?!"
Tiger has had a long-standing problem with touch -- dating back to his junior years -- and he hasn't figured it out yet. If you think he's the best now, watch the heck out!!
Tiger after missing eagle putt at 2006 Masters 13th Hole
The REAL story is that Tiger currently wins 1 out of 4 events he enters, but if he can get a handle on this one aspect of his game, he can win THREE TIMES AS OFTEN, notching a W every 3 events out of 4. Lights out, boys. Welcome to the Tiger TV Tour, complete with 153 other "competitors" as cannon fodder.
Don't believe me? Here's what Tiger says, what his caddie Steve Williams says, and what Hank Haney says:
Tiger, 2006 Masters: "This is the most amount of three-putts I've ever had here. If I just putted normal today I would have given Phil a run. It was frustrating. It's the best I've hit it in years. Just the way you want to hit it in a major championship. But I absolutely lost it on the greens. I'm probably going to go snap this putter in about eight pieces."
Tiger, 2006 PGA Championship: "Hank, you’ve never seen me putt good."
Hank, 2006 PGA Championship: "With all this focus on his swing, putting is the one thing that's gone neglected. But he's worked hard on it, and it's starting to show."
Steve, after 2006: "I keep very comprehensive details of Tiger's statistics. No question, the difference between his winning and not winning comes down to putting. My statistics tell you that if he plays 72 holes without a three-putt, his chances of a victory are about 80 percent. In 2000 he had several stretches of more than 100 straight holes without a three-putt -- I believe he got to 258 at one point. He had only one stretch longer than 100 holes this year."
We're all very sorry that Tiger's hobbled right now with his bum knee, but then again this allows him to work on his putting issue. Look out!
Here is a radiograph thru time of Tiger and this touch issue:
1. Tiger Woods on learning over the first five years on Tour to slow down his stroke, changing from aggressive to a softer touch (Golf Digest September 2000):
"How to lag putt: Cutting down on three-jacks
I've always been an aggressive putter. During my junior golf and amateur days, I would knock it four or five feet past and drill it coming back. However, the greens on tour are faster and more undulating. Most of the time on tour you have to be "passively aggressive."
You're not always going to hit your approaches close, so I had to learn how to control my speed on long putts to avoid those knee-knockers coming back. The key is pace of stroke and pace of ball, controlled by a longer, slower stroke. When I'm rolling it well, my backstroke and forward stroke are almost identical in length. If one is shorter, it will not be my forward stroke; you don't want to decelerate. I lag putted great at this year's U.S. Open, but what set that up was growing confidence over the previous year. The National Car Rental at Disney in 1999 is a perfect example. I didn't strike the ball that well all week but managed a one-shot lead going to the 72nd hole. I hit a very conservative approach about 35 feet away, then rolled the putt within tap-in distance. I've learned to love tap-ins.
The lesson for you: Employ a longer, slower stroke on long putts."
Tiger Woods, The lessons I've learned: And what you can learn from them, Golf Digest, Sep 2000.
2. Here's his take on his "atrocious" putting at the 2004 PGA Championship:
"TIGER WOODS: It's frustrating because I didn't win, simple as that. I felt like I was playing so well coming into this event, and I was. It's unfortunate that I just didn't continue that way, that first day when I played decent but putted so poorly. It just put me so far back that it was very frustrating.
TIGER WOODS: First day was mechanics. Today I just didn't feel it at all. To feel that poorly over a putt is just very unusual, especially this year."
Tiger Woods Interview, 86th PGA Championship, 15 Aug 2004.
3. Here is Tiger Woods on why he lost the 2006 Masters with terrible, spasmotic putting:
"As Tiger Woods signed his scorecard near the 18th green, a member of his entourage had his putter and mimicked snapping it over his knee. Woods' caddie agreed.
"Break the ...," Steve Williams said, throwing the putter to one of Woods' agents.
No Woods fan would have argued. Only three players in the field needed more putts in their final round. The four-time Masters champion finished in a disappointing five-way tie for third place.
"I hit it great today," Woods said. "As good as I hit it today, that's as bad as I putted. ... It was frustrating. I felt in so much control of my ball from tee to green. The best I have hit it in years. The final round of a major that's exactly how you want to hit it. But then again, I absolutely lost it out there on the greens. I putted so bad. I am probably going to go snap this putter in about eight pieces."
Greens that perplexed Woods all day made him pine for his typical game on the final day of a major championship.
"The way I controlled my ball today, I felt like today was the day," Woods said. "If I would have just putted normal. I didn't have to play great. Just had to putt normal. I had so many putts in there inside 10 feet for birdies and eagles, and I missed them all."
"If I knew (what went wrong) I would have fixed it," Woods said. "I was both pulling them and pushing them. Bad speed. Short. Long. You name it. I had it all today."
Gary D'Amato, Tiger's putting game off course - Struggle on greens dooms Woods, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 Apr 2006.
"Done in by a horrible day on the greens for the first time in a major championship in which he was in contention, Woods fell short in his bid to win his fifth Masters and his 11th major title Sunday.
"I putted atrociously today," he said. "As good as I hit it, that's as bad as I putted it. I felt so in control of my game, but once I got on the green I was a spaz."
How bad was his putting?
He three-putted on No. 11, waved at a 10-foot birdie putt on the next hole, missed eagle putts shorter than 10 feet on Nos. 13 and 15 and then, after giving himself a breath of hope with a birdie on No. 16, gave the stroke right back with a three-putt bogey on No. 17.
He finished with 33 putts. Only three players needed more in the final round.
When Woods won the 1997 Masters, setting the 72-hole record of 18-under 270, he didn't have a single three-putt. He also putted brilliantly in his victories at Augusta National in 2001, '02 and '05.
"This is the most amount of three-putts I've ever had here," he said. "If I just putted normal today I would have given Phil a run.
"It was frustrating. It's the best I've hit it in years. Just the way you want to hit it in a major championship. But I absolutely lost it on the greens. I'm probably going to go snap this putter in about eight pieces."
Asked if he knew what went wrong, Woods said, "If I knew, I would have fixed it. I was pulling 'em, pushing 'em, bad speed, (missing) short and long. You name it and I did it."
Jeff Sentell, Putting ends Woods' chances, Masters.org, 10 Apr 2006.
4. Hank Haney on Tiger's putting in 2006 at Medinah:
"The missing piece for Woods was his putting. At Hoylake he prevailed even though he had three three-putts on the back nine on Saturday, typical of an uneven year on the greens.
"With all this focus on his swing, it's the one thing that's gone neglected," Haney said last week of Woods's putting. "But he's worked hard on it, and it's starting to show.""
Doug Ferguson, Tiger's putting in PGA simply amazing - Forget about length off tee, Woods won with his flat stick, nbcsports.com, 23 Aug 2006.
And the same:
"But he was equally proud of the most boring shot in golf, a special gift for swing coach Hank Haney.
“He told me Saturday afternoon, ‘Hank, you’ve never seen me putt good,”’ Haney said Monday night from his home in Dallas. “And I told him after he got done, ‘I’ve seen you putt good now.”’
The one club Woods singled out in his five-shot victory at Medinah was his putter.
He started his final round with a 10-foot birdie to seize the lead, then pulled away with a pair of 40-foot birdie putts, both of them tumbling into the cup with perfect speed.
“I just felt like if I got the ball anywhere on the green, I could make it,” Woods said. “It’s not too often you get days like that, and I happened to have it on the final round of a major championship.”
Alan Shipnuck, Playing like it was 1999 all over again, Tiger Woods returned to Medinah and lapped the field at the PGA, showing off a putting stroke that seems to make him, well, unbeatable, Golf.com, 28 Aug 2006.
5. Here's what Steve Williams says about Tiger after his 2006 season -- that he now wins 25% of the time but he could TRIPLE that if he eliminated his three-putting:
"On Woods' putting struggles in the first half of '06: "I keep very comprehensive details of Tiger's statistics. No question, the difference between his winning and not winning comes down to putting. My statistics tell you that if he plays 72 holes without a three-putt, his chances of a victory are about 80 percent. In 2000 he had several stretches of more than 100 straight holes without a three-putt -- I believe he got to 258 at one point. He had only one stretch longer than 100 holes this year."
Steve Williams Speaks Up, ESPN, 28 Dec 2006.
6. One month later Tiger slumps with bad putting to lose a match 4 and 3:
At Wentworth in September, losing 4 and 3 to Micheel with bad putting.
"Woods was undone by uncharacteristically poor putting, missing a putt from less than three feet at the ninth.
"I felt like I hit the ball pretty decent all day but I just didn't make any putts," said the world number one.
"I had my chances but had a hard time with my pace on the greens."
Woods slumps to Match Play defeat, BBC Sports, 12 Sep 2006.
7. Tiger Woods on putting lead tape on his putter to adjust his putter mass in an attempt to account for faster or slower greens while leaving the size of his strokes the same from fast to slow greens (Congressional 2007):
"Q. Was the lead tape on the putter today?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, the whole idea, like I told Stevie when we did it was to build continuity for next two tournaments, this tournament and the next, because you know the British Open never has fast greens. So it was nice to have an adjustment like I've made for this week probably going to last until the next event."
Tiger Woods Interview, AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods, 7 Jul 2007.
8. Tiger on losing the 2008 US Open with bad putting:
"Woods has lost his past two tournaments in large part because of his putter. This week, he had 28 putts Thursday, 31 on Friday and Saturday and 30 on Sunday.
That totalled 120 putts in the tournament, which ranked in a tie for 29th in the field. Immelman had 112 putts.
After he rolled in a birdie putt on No. 18, Woods waved one of his hands in disgust, showing his disappointment with his putting. His main problem was dragging the blade on his shorter putts, he said.
"I just didn't quite have it this week," Woods said. "I didn't make the putts I needed to make this entire week. I had the speed, just didn't get the line right. You have good weeks and have bad weeks. Certainly, this was not one of my best."
David Westin, Immelman holds off Tiger for green jacket - South African shoots his worst round of tournament but outlasts a struggling Woods for Masters victory, Topeka Capital Journal, 14 Apr 2008.
The PuttingZone lesson for today: Even the "best" need to get better! Touch is more important than stroke mechanics, and without touch a golfer cannot be a great reader of putts to start with, so stroke mechanics won't matter if the read is off. Tiger really needs to fix this, and he probably will if he can figure it out. But, hey, that's why the Chinese Golf Gods "Ty" and "Ming" created putting instructors. :-)
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