Woods tweaks setup, grip in hopes of improving putting

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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ iron game at the Greenbrier Classic was the best it has been in at least 12 years.

His putting? Another story entirely, and his myriad missed opportunities led to another middling finish (T-32) at the rain-softened Old White TPC. 

Woods’ proximity to the hole at The Greenbrier was 23 feet, 11 inches, his best iron-game performance since the PGA Tour began keeping track of the statistic in 2003. 

“The best I’ve hit it in probably two years,” Woods said Tuesday at St. Andrews. “That was a very, very good sign.” 

Though his short game has improved considerably since the start of the season, and his long game has shown signs of progress, Woods’ inconsistent putting remains a concern. If he had played enough rounds to qualify, he would rank 96th on Tour in strokes gained-putting. 

In the past two weeks, Woods made a few adjustments. First, he noticed that the lines were off in his setup. The simpler change was to his putter, which he re-gripped for the first time in a year and a half. Even with a limited tournament schedule over that span, he said that he could see the indentations of his fingers on the grip, so it was time to make a change.

“After a certain amount of time, the grip does become smaller, and we were having to towel it off before every putt, and that gets annoying,” he said. “So we decided to put a fresh one on there, and when it’s fresh like that, it’s just slightly bigger.”

Woods said that lag putting is crucial to success on the Old Course, because sometimes a shot to the heart of the green, 50 feet away, will be good if the wind is howling. 

“You just can’t get it close,” he said. “To be able to lag those putts stone dead is very key.”