Calcs Putter an On-Again Off-Again Saga
Take, for instance, the year 1997. I missed two 12-inch putts at the British Open, he said, and I thought, How can I expect to win a golf tournament if I cant make a 12-inch putt?
He was talking just moments after he had won his eighth PGA Tour victory, the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open. Now called the Air Canada Championships, it is a relatively new tournament that has been in existence since 1996. Calcavecchia won the second event, closing with a 65-66 when his putter was very hot.
In the late 1980s, when I was making everything, if I missed a two- or three-foot putt, the next hole, Id make a 30-foot putt, said Calc, just moments after he missed a three-footer on the 71st hole but still won at Vancouver. That was about the only blemish, as Calcavecchia surged up the leaderboard on Saturday and Sunday with a putter he had borrowed from Jeff Maggert.
You see, Calc had broken his own roller in a fit of anger Friday. He looked inside Maggerts locker and saw the Ping Anser Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, Maggerts putter (fortunately it was a spare) was out of Maggerts locker in Calcavecchias bag.
There was considerable conjecture of whether Maggert would ever see the putter again. The question was posed to Calcavecchia, who paused for only a second.
It depends on how bad he wants it, said Calc. I had a tremendous time this week. Any tournament anyone wins, a lot of good things happen to them.
Usually, though, its not courtesy of a pilfered putter. Oh ' Calc did tell Maggert of his thievery. Mags, said a note hastily left in Maggerts locker, Im the one who has it, so dont panic ' Calc.
That, though, is the story of Calcavecchia in the 90s. He has changed putters ' and putting styles ' as frequently as he has changed shirts.
Calcavecchia was brilliant in winning the British Open in 89, making birdie on the 72nd hole, then defeating Greg Norman and Wayne Grady in a playoff. But in 1991 there were already cracks in his putting armor. He borrowed a 52-inch putter from Bruce Lietzke and put it in his bag for one round at The Memorial.
It came up to my neck, he said of the broomstick putter. Calcavecchia had it shortened and carried it as a second putter, discarding his 3-iron. But Calcavecchia didnt use the long putter, and the next day his regulation model was again the only one he carried.
When I went back to my short one, it felt good, Calc explained at the time. Hopefully, I wont have to go back to it for another 15 or 20 years.
It was a few years later that Calcavecchia feared he had really lost the stroke. It was when he felt he could no longer putt like most everyone else, that the old magic was truly gone.
I remember the day my putting left me, he said. It was my birthday, June 12, 1995; practice round for the Open at Shinnecock Hills. I played Phil (Mickelson) in a practice round and missed about six four-footers. Ended up losing a lot to him. And I putted just awful in the tournament, missed the cut. Something changed.
From there, his putting really soured. He was 108th in the PGA Tour rankings in 1996, 105th in 98, going as high as 136th in 99. The guy who was a pretty fair putter in the 80s had sunk just about as low as you can go.
I tried everything ' cross-handed, split-handed, eyes open, eyes shut, one eye open, one eye shut, said Calc. Tried putting with ' tried my left eye shut. So I figured if I looked at the ball with one eye, I couldnt see anything out there. I wouldnt peek. So I would hit it and wait for the ball to disappear and looked. It didnt work. That was no good. No good at all.
In pure desperation, Calcavecchia tried something new at the Players Championship in 2000, a move of absolute surrender. It was the claw, a putting grip made popular by Chris DiMarco. It was Friday, just before he began his second round.
Five minutes before I teed off, I just tried it, he said. I rolled in a 25-footer on 1 for birdie, 15-footer for birdie on 2, and an eight-footer for par on 3. I was like, Im back.
He jumped to 56th in putting in 2000, but he still wasnt where he wanted to be ' not totally. He still was much too spotty, going through stretches when nothing was falling. Thats when he came up with the belly-claw.
He talked about it at the Players this year, about the new styles derivation. I wasnt yipping it or anything with my regular Claw grip, but all of a sudden I wasnt making anything, he began.
Doral was awful putting. Honda was painful. Putted really bad. Id win that tournament if I putted anywhere near decent. Last week wasnt much better. I used three putters at Bay Hill ' went through my whole rotation.
Then he saw Lee Westwood, who had missed the cut at the Players, but was hanging around practicing. Westwood asked how it was going and Calcavecchia told him, Awful. Westwood mentioned that he had a bellybutton putter in his locker. No, but thanks, said Calc.
Then I started thinking about it the next morning and putted with it on the putting green, and just tried an open stance with a Claw, said Calcavecchia.
It felt pretty good, but I didnt have the nerve to use it. But sure enough, I took it up to Augusta with me on Monday and made putts from everywhere.
Its unusual, the first day you try something like that, youre usually a little shaky with it. But I think its another revelation in my putting saga.
Its Calcavecchias putting style du jour, but he says this one is going to stick around for awhile.
It may pass as a fad, but not for me, he said. I can still putt conventionally, whacking it around on the practice green, and its all fine and dandy. But even if I play in a pro-am with a conventional grip, Ill feel a little tug ' its not the free-flowing, confident stroke that I have with the claw.
Calc is conscious of how he looks with the odd putting style, but desperate situations call for desperate measures. More often than not over his long career, he will carry two putters when things look really bleak.
Its usually just two different kinds of 35-inch (regular) putters, he said. The only time I carried the real long one, I didnt put another one in. But Ive carried two putters before and just took out a 6-iron or something. It was probably a case where it was Sunday and I was about the second group off the tee and it really didnt matter.
It was at the forerunner to the Air Canada, though, when he really has hot with the roller. In 1997, he was a short-putter wizard for a week. He hopes the longer putter is good for years to come.
Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB
Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.
Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.
Walking in the par putt at No. 2. pic.twitter.com/zuSGZmVL3z— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.
A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.
Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.
Tiger gets it to 9-under.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
He's 4 shots back. pic.twitter.com/cAZtM14SlJ
Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.
His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.
Drive on 9 is approximately 824 yards off-line right. Approximately.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Slides by. Bogey. That’s deflating. Turns at -9 and needs to go lights-out coming home to have any chance.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.
He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.
And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.
Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.
Uh oh. This is left...— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Tiger picked the absolute worst time to stop going right on 16. Mercy.— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) March 18, 2018
He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.
McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”
This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.
A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.
McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.
“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.
“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.