February 19, 2009

How To See The Line

Get low and keep your eyes level on long putts

Have you ever had the feeling you're going to make a long putt -- and then made it? I knew I was going to hole a 45-footer on 18 in the third round of the 2001 Senior PGA Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

That long putt built confidence that carried over to the final round, when I shot 67 to finish one stroke ahead of Jim Thorpe. The key was that I saw the line of the putt in my head and committed to it. The win was special because the regular PGA is the one major I never won.

Sometimes you're unsure of how a putt will break, but you still have to pick a line and stroke the ball on that line with assurance. My putt that day was uphill and broke significantly. I saw the line clearly and told myself I was going to make it, and the ball went right down the line and into the hole.

Without holding up play, I check a putt from behind the hole, from the side and finally from behind the ball. I try to get as low as I can and keep my eyes level. Camilo Villegas has the right idea with his "Spider-Man" action -- and the right young body for it, too.



MORE THOUGHTS FROM TOM

The No. 1 reason for missing putts is poor alignment of the putterface.

For years I've unknowingly aimed left of my true line, causing inconsistent manipulations in my stroke. Now I'm using a practice device that shows me where the putterface is pointed. It will enable me to train my eyes to see the proper line and aim the face accurately. I use it indoors and out.