After his opening round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Dustin Johnson told reporters, “[You] just got to trust your lines, hit them and I feel like I’m rolling it good, so I’m going to make some putts.”
Turns out, there was a reason that Johnson felt more comfortable trusting his lines. Although Johnson finished a somewhat respectable 81st in strokes gained/putting last year, he was struggling with his putting late in the year, including some hardship on the greens when he blew a lead in China. At the urging of TaylorMade’s VP of tour operations, Keith Sbarbaro, Johnson came to the company’s putter lab in Carlsbad, Calif., to work out his woes.
The Tour team built 12 identical Spider Tour putters—a model he has used frequently over the last 18 months. Each of the putters had a different sight line. Johnson hit five putts with each (flat, 15-footers) and the results were telling.
With a long sight line, Johnson was aiming nearly 10 inches left of the hole. Those with shorter sight lines were aimed at the left edge. His gamer with no line on top was an inch left of center. However the one with a T-line alignment was aimed nearly center on every putt, prompting Johnson to put the club in the bag in Hawaii.
For the week Johnson ranked an impressive sixth in strokes gained/putting at .724 despite claiming he wasn’t putting all that well, and went on to win by eight shots.
That can’t make others on the PGA Tour feel very good about their chances going forward.