Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hard Truth: Tiger Isn't a Good Putter

Coming into this week’s British Open (or The Open Championship for any European readers), one of the biggest stories on the Tiger Woods front was the decision to use a different style putter because of the speeds of the greens at St. Andrews.

This decision was criticized by analysts, who thought that abandoning a putter that had won him 14 majors and 80+ million in earnings was a mistake.

Then, in a span of the tournament, we heard them go from that view, to Tiger’s new putter is the next piece of technology that will revolutionize golf, back to the idea that he should make the switch back because he isn’t putting well.

I have a better idea about why he is struggling with his flat stick: he isn’t a good putter.

This might be a foreign concept to most, but that is because we spend all of our golf watching with Johnny Morgan in our ear telling us how amazing of a putter Tiger is the instant he makes a simple five or six foot putt.

Take a look at his rankings amongst his peers on putting the last six years:

2009: T20

2008: didn’t play enough to qualify for stat

2007: T48

2006: 137

2005: 33

2004: 20

Would you say those are the rankings of one of the best putters in our generation? I don’t think so.

As you can see, the lack of quality putting over the past tournaments isn’t a recent thing. It has been mediocre his entire career. What separates Tiger from the rest of the field is his amazing ball-striking. Putting is the wild card in the winning equation.

In all three majors this year, Tiger has hit the ball well enough to win-that goes double for the Masters, where he was playing as well as I have seem him play in years. Despite this fact, Tiger doesn’t have a Major Championship this year because of his failures with the putter.

Hell, it only makes sense that he change his putter…his old one wasn’t working for him.

Morgan would like to make you think that he “is having a tough day with the putter” every day that you see him, but the statistics that I have shown say otherwise.

Remember the scene in Happy Gilmore where Chubbs takes Happy to a miniature golf course to work on his putting? We might not be there quite yet, but we are close.

Woods seems to be struggling with reading putts, speed, and even having a consistent stroke. He is zero-for-three in putting skills.

Now, before I get struck by lightening for criticizing Tiger, I must say that I do believe Tiger Woods is still the best golfer in the World and that I do think that he will pass Jack Nicklaus in career Majors.

That being said, if he wins the five more majors he needs, it won’t be because of his putting, it will be in spite of it.

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