Putting it All Together

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2011, 12:39 pm

API LogoORLANDO, Fla. – The images are burned in the brain.

Memories of Tiger Woods at his best, when he looked most like a golf warrior, have a common denominator.

Woods was connected to his putter.

Has he ever looked fiercer than when he rocked back on his heels and roared to the heavens after making that long birdie putt to tie Rocco Mediate and force a playoff at the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008?

How about when he holed that 24-foot putt at the 72nd hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to beat Brad Bryant and spiked his hat with another raucous roar two years ago?

Or all those trademark uppercuts he used to throw after holing putts in his youth?
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods Wednesday at Bay Hill, where he has won six times. (Getty Images)
Woods’ putter was like Excalibur over his best years.

While a lot is made of swing changes Woods is making with Sean Foley, Woods has shown us over the years he can win when his swing’s not quite right.

But he’s got no shot when his putting stroke’s not right.

That’s what intrigues about Woods’ return to the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week in a bid to win his seventh PGA Tour title at Bay Hill.

Woods used his new Nike Method putter again in Wednesday’s pro-am. The course seems a perfect place for the magic to return to his putting stroke. There are so many good memories for him with his putter here.

In his last two appearances at Bay Hill, Woods ended victories with dramatic tournament-winning putts.

There was the 24-foot birdie putt to beat Bryant in ’08 and the 12-foot birdie putt to beat Sean O'Hair in ’09.

Woods' triumph against O'Hair was good for what ailed him back then. It was his first taste of victory in nine months in the wake of his return from knee surgery.

The memories have to be enervating with Woods saying he’s feeling better about his putting stroke after a bout of lackluster putting the past year. He believes when his putting form returns, you can expect his entire game to begin to follow.

“The putting will come,” Woods said after Wednesday's pro-am. “The chipping will come.

“Because I’m learning a new release, that’s going to take time. But I know I can do that. I’ve done it before . . . I know from the work I’ve done it starts with the putting stroke and it works its way out. Once I get the release dialed in with the putting and the chipping and the irons, then eventually the driver just falls into place.”

When Woods said he was changing the release of his putter as part of his swing makeover with Foley, it got people’s attention. Woods’ putting stroke, after all, might have been the finest under pressure the game’s ever seen.

Notably, Woods said the release he’s working on with Foley is more a return to the release his father taught him. Earl Woods was Tiger’s putting coach until Earl’s death five years ago.

Tiger was asked Wednesday what he thought his father might have him working on as he tries to break out of his putting funk.

“It’s funny you say that,” Woods said. “I went back to all my old stuff that my dad and I used to work on. That’s when I felt that my stroke started becoming more sound, more solid. My speed became better.

“I don’t know what the dude saw in my game, but he really knew putting, and he knew my stroke. I miss him for a lot more reasons than just the putting, but as far as bouncing ideas off of him and what I was feeling and what he would say, I do miss that, certainly.”

Woods said what Foley’s teaching him doesn’t conflict with what his father taught.

“It’s exactly the same, what Foley is trying to get me to do with my full swing, and how he wants me to release it, and how I used to release my putter,” Woods said. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve gone back to my old stuff that my dad and I used to work on. It feels natural, because I’ve done it so long. I just got away from it, and now I’m going back to it.”

As athletic moves go, Woods’ slight rocking of his shoulders in his putting stroke in his prime didn’t thrill the way a Muhammad Ali combination did or Reggie Jackson corkscrew swing did, but it was one of sport’s marvels just the same. That gentle little pendulum swing could make the earth move.

If that returns, you know Woods’ confidence will follow and help every dimension of his game.

The challenge this week will come on green complexes that have changed since Woods last won here two years ago.

Palmer made considerable changes before last year’s tournament, an event Woods missed as he worked his way back from personal woes.

The course alternations aren’t enough, however, to lead Palmer to believe Woods can’t master these greens the way he did in six other victories at Bay Hill.

“I feel like Tiger has the golf game that he can come to the surface at anytime, and I think there’s certainly a possibility here,” Palmer said. “He likes this golf course, and what we’ve done. I’m just not counting him out at all.”

Ian Poulter believes Woods’ powers could return quickly with the putter.

“I think it’s a confidence thing,” Ian Poulter said. “I think as soon as he puts himself in a position of being in contention, I really mean being up there, I think it would be very easy for him to see his lines again, very quickly.

“If you start missing putts and you start missing your lines, and if everything is on top of you, you are kind of putting more pressure on yourself to putt well. I think if he puts himself in the mix, I would know where my money is going.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm