Putting Things into Perspective

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You can never have too much putting in the Ryder Cup.
 
Pause, for effect.
 
You can never have too much putting in the Ryder Cup.
 
Which is to say, its not the economy, stupid. Its the flat stick.
 
The fact that Loren Roberts is a vice-captain for American skipper Tom Lehmans team is not an accident.
 
Roberts may have the best transition'from back swing to forward swing'with the putter, in all of golf. He shot 67 Thursday in Oregon to share the first-round lead at the JELD-WEN Tradition. And afterward, I asked him if he would be prepared to help American players with their putting at the Ryder Cup matches in Ireland next month if they asked him.
 
Roberts said PGA TOUR players are a proud bunch and that he rarely gets asked for a tip. But, he said, he is prepared to help in any way he can. And if that means fixing somebody elses balky stroke, hell be glad to try.
 
Heres my unsolicited advice to Lehman: When the players get to Ireland for the matches, gather them around the putting green on the first day. Hand Roberts a putter. And make your players watch him for 30 minutes. Let them soak in the tempo, feel the rhythm and sniff the quiet confidence. They will need it.
 
Its no accident, by the way, that Corey Pavin, one of the best clutch putters of the late 20th century, is also a Lehman assistant.
 
Its no accident that Stewart Cink, who once led the TOUR in putting, was a captains pick Monday. Its no accident that Scott Verplank, who never saw a putt that scared him, was the other captains pick.
 
Nobody should be above getting help on putting. Tom Kite, who has struggled with the putter for much of his Champions Tour career, recently got a tip from Mark McNulty and another one from Lee Trevino. They both helped him to a wildly successful Champions Tour week in Seattle that concluded last Sunday with a playoff victory over Keith Fergus.
 
Kite needed just 72 putts for the three-round event. Thats an average of 24 a day. When Im putting good, Kite told me after a Thursday 68 at the JELD-WEN, I cant wait to get to the golf course in the morning.
 
Kites 68 included a tidy 26 putts.
 
You can never have too much putting anywhere.
 
The Europeans know this has been the key to their dominance over the Americans in the last five Ryder Cups, of which they have won four.
 
Lehman knows it, too.
 
Knowing it and figuring out how to make it happen are two different things. So far, Lehman is making all the right moves.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - JELD-WEN Tradition
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup