Daniel Stadler Re-Learn The Putt

By George WhiteJuly 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
The putt ' such a simple movement, really. It takes no muscle, no length, no experience. See, aim, fire. Woman or man, kid or adult. Its the simplest of all the strokes in golf.
Its also the most fleeting. A lot of people were great putters when they were younger, then suddenly lost it when they turned 40. Ben Hogan comes to mind. Tom Watson was one of the worlds all-time great putters 20 years ago, but then ' well, you know what has happened. Name them ' Arnold Palmer. Nancy Lopez. Tom Kite. Nick Faldo. Maybe even Beth Daniel or Craig Stadler.
Its a mystery why the putting stroke leaves you. They say its nerves, but that simplifies it way too much. The truth is, no one really knows. But for Daniel and Stadler, the weekend brought back a glorious old friend. They looked up and who do you think was standing there? Why it was the Old Roller, and for at least a week he decided to come calling. Happy days are here again!
Daniel had to make an eight-footer on the last hole to become the oldest woman to win an LPGA Tour event. Shes 46 and change, and the woman she beat was another Golden Oldie, Juli Inkster at 43.
Stadler did it in the third major of the Champions Tour season - the Ford Senior Players Championship. He has been looking for the lost putting stroke since the mid-80s, going through just about every imaginable way of propelling the ball to the hole. Now hes using the Calcavecchia Claw, and whatdoya know, he suddenly saw the ball dropping all over the place. Winning, he realized once again, is really a lot of fun.
Daniel and Inkster played a par-5 when she nipped her old buddy. Both laid up on the second shot and hit a short iron in. Inkster had 15 feet for birdie, but left it just short. Daniel had eight feet ' she remembered it as six feet, but whats 24 inches - and just poured it in using the long-handle putter.
I tell you what, its pretty cool to stand over a six-footer and just tell yourself, Lets get it over with right now. Lets just knock this thing in the hole and no sudden-death playoff, Daniel said.
And I did. It was a tough putt, it was probably a six-inch break, kind of a speed putt. But I hit a great putt.
Stadler hit a lot of great putts at Ford. He had started the year on the regular tour until he turned 50 just last month. He had missed the cut in five of the eight regular-tour tournaments he played this year, but he hit 50 and suddenly it was out there in front of him like a great big Easter egg ' his putting stroke.
Most of the guys out here on the Champions Tour have all went through the same thing, he said. We were all terrific putters when we were young.
To be truthful, the only one who is still that way is (Ben) Crenshaw. Hes wonderful, has been, never changes.
You all go through your cycles and obviously Watsons been through times, Tom Kite ' Lietzke is pretty consistent. But I started probably in the early 90s. I didnt get very comfortable with the putter I have been through everything.
Asked again later when was the last time he felt this good about his putting, Stadler admitted that it was probably the early 80s. Then he reversed himself again, saying he had putted it very well in 1980, 81, 82.
But, hey, its not something that you like to remember. Only that earlier in life, he could remember making them from all over the green. Lousy putter/good ball-striker, or lousy ball-striker/good putter. Its very seldom that you are favored with both, unless your name is Tiger Woods.
Early in life, I got to be such a lousy driver of the ball, I usually was hitting it every which way and making putts, Stadler said. I tell you, its a lot more fun to hit it awful and putt well, than to hit it 10 feet every hole and miss.
Daniel began searching for an antidote for poor putting about 10 years ago. And she certainly didnt think the long putter was the way out of her misery, at least not at first.
Yeah, it took a long time, she remembers.
Gary Koch saw me at one of my first attempts at putting with a long putter and I was pitiful, admits Daniel. And Gary and (instructor) Jim Ferree both told me to give it up, that I had no chance if ever putting with a long putter.
But my teacher, Mike McGetrick, convinced me to use it and I said, You know what, if you want me to use it, you have to come teach me how to use it, because I have no clue.
So we spent a lot of time and I actually practiced for months with the short putter and the long putter. Finally I used it for the first time in the Chick-fil-A Championship in April of 2000. I carried two putters, the long and the short putter. Because I didnt know what was going to happen under pressure.
I have never gone back since, and I actually wish I had gone to it earlier. It made a huge difference in my putting.
Oh, and the difference it makes you feel as a golfer - one day you feel like a plumber; the next day you feel like a Crenshaw.
Its nice to get over a putt from four feet and think that youve got a chance to make it, laughed Stadler. Its been the other way ' trust me.
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.