Crisis of Confidence

By Randall MellJuly 22, 2010, 12:12 am
Tiger Woods’ switch to a new putter for the first three rounds of last week’s British Open was about more than his search for better feel or a better roll.

It was about more than the new grooves on the putter face.

It wasn’t really about technology at all.

No matter what Woods says about his tinkering with a new putter, you can bet he was looking for the same thing every professional looks for when he makes a change.

“When you see a player looking for a new putter, it isn't really a new putter he's looking for,” says Hall of Fame teacher Bob Toski, the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1954. “He's looking for confidence, the confidence he thinks that putter can give him.”

Tiger Woods
At St. Andrews Tiger Woods averaged 33 putts through the first three rounds with the Nike Method before reverting to his familiar Scotty Cameron in Round 4. (Getty Images)
Woods’ putter switch last week was the strongest evidence yet that he’s lost confidence in a way he’s never lost it before.

It’s why Woods ditching his hallowed Scotty Cameron Newport 2 for a Nike Method 001 created such a fuss.

Even in the case of Woods, who ranks as one of the greatest putters who ever lived, the problem’s likely the archer and not the arrow, as pros say about putting woes.

And yet the best players the game has ever seen believe there can be magic in new arrows.

They believe it profoundly.

Jack Nicklaus wasn’t married to a putter, winning his 18 majors with four different models.

Before the ’67 U.S. Open at Baltusrol, Nicklaus was struggling with his putting and ready to abandon the Ping model he was using. He tried one of Deane Beman’s Bulls Eye putters on the practice putting green before the event and fell in love with it, but Beman didn’t want to part with it.

Could you imagine the reaction in the British tabloids if Woods had tried out putters belonging to other players on the practice green at St. Andrews last week? He would have been declared a lost soul with no chance of recovery.

Nicklaus, by the way, won at Baltusrol in ‘67 with a putter dubbed “White Fang,” an Acushnet John Reuter Jr. Bulls Eye given to him by a friend of Beman’s. Fred Mueller had a model just like Beman’s but painted the blade white to reduce the sun’s glare, thus the nickname. Nicklaus made eight birdies in the final round to win and broke Ben Hogan’s U.S. Open 72-hole scoring record.

Though Nicklaus won four other tournaments with White Fang, he would abandon the putter in search of another freshening of confidence and a more magical arrow.

Nicklaus won the ’66 Masters with a Slazenger Jack Nicklaus putter, the ’67 U.S. Open with White Fang and the ’86 Masters with a MacGregor Response ZT putter. It’s important to note he did show some unusual affection for a George Low Sportsman putter. He won 15 of his majors with that.

Losing confidence in a putter isn’t normally a big deal in golf circles. It happens every week on the PGA Tour. It happens every day. It’s just that everything’s spectacularly larger when Woods is involved.

And Woods’ Scotty Cameron Newport 2 was invested spectacularly with confidence.

Woods made that putter a big deal winning 13 major championships after putting it in his bag at the Byron Nelson Classic in 1999, winning all but one of his majors with it. He won 63 PGA Tour titles with the putter and more than $87 million in PGA Tour earnings.

That Woods is searching for his old confidence doesn’t make him desperate. It makes him a pretty typical Tour pro. But that’s big news, too. Woods has never been your typical Tour pro.

Sergio Garcia used more putters in a single round than Woods used in a 12-year run.

Garcia stuffed a belly putter and a short putter in his bag before defeating John Senden in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship two years ago.

When it comes to chasing confidence, Mark Calcavecchia’s a virtual playboy with putters, a classic love ‘em and leave ‘em sort of guy.

“I’ve played more than once with two putters in the same round,” Calcavecchia once told me. “I’ve used a different putter in all four rounds of a tournament before.”

And Calcavecchia’s finished more than one round without a putter in his bag.

“If I’ve got a putter that’s not working, there’s a good chance I’m going to toss it,” he said. “I can think of a half dozen that are at the bottom of lakes somewhere. I can think of a couple others that I’ve buried in flower gardens.”

When you see Woods tossing his putter in a lake, or burying it in a garden before trying out Calcavecchia’s claw grip, you’ll know he’s gone beyond chasing confidence and is truly experiencing a crisis of confidence.

You don’t have to be a student of psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut’s deep probing into how shame affects behavior to surmise that Woods’ performance is impacted by the turmoil that’s invaded his head and heart these last eight months, but you'd have to be a psychic to know if his confidence will ever fully return.

All we know right now is that he’s beginning to look like every other Tour pro. He’s chasing confidence that comes and goes.
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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:00 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity,, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.