News & Tours

Paul Azinger has a frightful warning for Scottie Scheffler and others who talk about their putting


Scottie Scheffler lines up a putt during the Memorial.

Jared C. Tilton

“Putting is the ghost.”

Paul Azinger said Wednesday during NBC’s conference call leading into its coverage of the 123rd U.S. Open that the best thing world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler can do to boost his performance on the greens is to stop talking about it. Scheffler, of course, is dominating tee to green on the PGA Tour this season, and his strokes-gained statistics were off the charts at the recent Memorial Tournament, where he finished third.

The powerful Texan, who closed with a five-under 67 Sunday at Muirfield Village Golf Club—the only sub-70 round of the day—gained an incredible 20.705 strokes on the field, the second-best performance ever recorded in the ShotLink era. Unfortunately, he lost more than eight strokes on the greens, a theme for Scheffler for more than two months after winning The Players in March. And now he faces U.S. Open greens that will be dialed up to firm and fast at Los Angeles Country Club.

“It’s a psychological battle. His technique is very repeatable,” Azinger, a former PGA champion and lead analyst for NBC’s golf coverage, said of Scheffler. “Sometimes, it can be physical; don’t get me wrong. Maybe you’ll be talking on the cell phone hitting putts with one hand and making everything and then you change your head position. It’s so minute.

“Look, putting is the ghost. If you’re a player and you talk about your putting, it’s going to haunt you. That’s what I believe. If you talk about your putting when you’re putting great, it’s going to haunt you, it’s going to ruin you. If you talk about your putting when you’re putting bad, it’s going to ruin you.

“My advice to anyone who play golf—hey, first things first, never talk about your putting. I’m serious. It’s the ghost. You don’t want to do it. That’s what I would say. Same with Scheffler. Let it go, you had a bad week, you should have won by five [at Memorial]. Sometimes, those greens and the way your eye is, it’s just that you’re off. He’s fine.”

“You know how quickly it all turns around,” on-course reporter John Wood added. “If he gets out there next week and makes a 12-footer on 1, and a 15-footer on 2, all of that is forgotten; all of it’s gone out of his head. I think you’re exactly right … it’s a ghost.”

Colleague Brad Faxon, a noted putting guru, had been on the call as well with Azinger, Wood and NBC golf anchor Dan Hicks, but he had to jump off to catch a flight. He ghosted the call at the right time.