The Golf Channel Catches Up With GolfBlogger On Tiger’s Putting

There was a long stretch on Morning Drive this a.m. about Tiger’s putting woes in Majors. The talking heads have essentially come around to what what The GolfBlogger has been saying for a couple of years now: The putts that Tiger used to routinely sink are not falling.

The entire swing rebuild discussion by the major golf media these past two years has been a red herring. If Tiger is bombing those “better than most” putts, his swing is not part of the discussion.

Think about what images of Tiger are etched in your mind in his glory days. Was it any particular long drive, or stiff iron to two feet? Unlikely. What I think we all remember is the “better than most putt,” the Nike ball “pose” before dropping in the hole, and the double bender from thirty feet. What highlights does television run over and again? Putting and Chipping. Those were the shots that, psychologically, drove his opponents to despair. Those were the shots that—once he was ahead—made everyone else melt down. Opponents would mentally concede his birdie putt once he was on the green. Knowing that Tiger was going to sink putt after putt, players would try to out-drive or out-iron him, resulting in miscues and poorly hit shots. And those in turn would add to Tiger’s lead.

The Golf Channel talking heads then wondered why he was sinking all those putts at Doral and in his other four wins this year. The answer to that is simple. He has played those courses so much that he knows exactly what the greens will do. That’s why half Tiger’s victories are on a small handful of courses. He dominates the courses and fields where he can dominate the greens. In military terms, he’s the general who wins when he has his opponents heavily outnumbered, but struggles on an even field.

Here’s a big statistical project for someone. Compare Tiger’s Stokes Gained In Putting in Majors for his glory years versus the field, and then his Strokes Gained In Putting in Majors for his wilderness years. My guess is that you’ll see the difference there.

Here’s a Tiger vs Phil breakdown for this past weekend, courtesy of GolfBlogger reader Drew.

Fairways Hit
Tiger – 5th
Phil – T37

Greens in Regulation
Tiger – T5
Phil – T27

Birdies
Tiger – T8 (13)
Phil – T2 (16)

One-Putts
Tiger – T15 (26)
Phil – T3 (31)

Three Putts
Tiger – T28 (5)
Phil – T77 (3)

Putting Average
Phil – 29.25
Tiger – 30.75

Tiger is even par if he has the same number of three putts as Phil. Then he’d only need four of those famous bombs over four rounds to win the Open Championship.

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4 thoughts on “The Golf Channel Catches Up With GolfBlogger On Tiger’s Putting”

  1. Another interesting event, possibly tied to Tiger’s putting woes, is that he had his eye’s re-treated with lasik in 2007.  I’ve worn glasses since I was a kid and in my experience any changes to lenses or their position takes getting use to. The most obvious impact is depth perception and clarity on the periphery.  The peripheral vision is key to a lot of what we “see” since the brain uses it to find the things which don’t fit the pattern.  (My peripheral vision finds the golf ball nestled into the rough.)  I wonder what if any impact this had on Tiger’s ability to read greens.

  2. Good point on the Lasik.  I have problems seeing the ball outside of 170 yards or so, but every time I try and wear glasses (and especially my failed attempt at contacts) – it hurts my ball striking and putting. 

    I would also say, and I am not sticking up for him, but I wonder what effect Stevie vs LaCava is having on putts.  What was Tiger’s confidence level in Stevie would he suggest a line vs. his confidence in LaCava?  Was Stevie actually significantly helpful to Tiger with putts?  Also as far as keeping Tiger in check, and knowing when to calm him vs when to let him get angry – all these things I wonder did Steve Williams have more of an effect on Tiger than most thought?

    BTW – thought this was interesting.  Saw an old comment from me on the internets today.  British Open 2012 prediction:  “I put Westwoods chances somewhere lower than John Daly’s which is below Luke Donald. and that is below Phil, and that is somewhere south of Tiger, who is below Mahan. And Mahan is not at the top- don’t know who is.

    BTW, I will give Westwood really good odds at being between 2 and 5 for this tournament. Tiger too.”

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