The crazy putting stat that propelled Tiger Woods to his Masters win
Kevin C. Cox
It would be easy to point to Tiger Woods’ TaylorMade irons as the clubs that were crucial to his Masters title. After all, Woods led the field in greens in regulation by a comfortable margin (80 percent, including 83 percent on Sunday). His key 8-iron to inside two feet on the par-3 16th took control of the tournament. But those paying close attention know an equal—and perhaps better—case can be made for Woods’ trusty Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport 2 Tiger putter.
The value of the putter goes beyond straight statistics, but there is one that was likely overlooked: Woods led the field in making putts outside of 20 feet. He made five of them, which was two more than anyone else. Perhaps more importantly, it was significantly more than his closest pursuers.
Xander Schauffele (two), Dustin Johnson (one), Brooks Koepka (none), Francesco Molinari (none) and Tony Finau (none) had two fewer than Woods combined.
Then there was the little matter of that nifty lag putt at the ninth, when Woods’ approach went 70 feet deep, leaving a swinging, downhill putt that had to be hit just so to barely clear one ridge and trickle to the hole. "He’s the best at the game, but people don’t realize how hard that was," said Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava. "That was big. Giving us momentum, shooting under par on the front nine.”
Woods' putter has a lengthy and interesting history. Coming into the 1999 GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic, Woods was T-102 in putting on the PGA Tour and had won just three tournaments since a victory in the same event in 1997. At the Nelson that year, Woods, who rarely changes clubs, switched putters, putting the Cameron in the bag. Woods won seven of his next 11 starts with the club.
The club’s markings include a single sight dot and a red "cherry dot" on both the face and in the back cavity. The putter also has a blank sole, with "Tiger" engraved on the left bumper and "Woods" on the right bumper. The club features a Ping grip with the “Ping” name blacked out and has been re-shafted a few times over the past years. It has been in the bag for 14 of Woods’ 15 major titles.
In other words, it was fitting that club was in his hand when he raised his arms over his head in victory.
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