Big Play A retooled stroke helped Tiger Woods nail short putts like the four-footer at 10 that gave him a 10-shot lead at Cog Hill as he ended his victory drought

July 13, 2003

What was the difference between Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, in
which he finished 20th, and Tiger at the Western Open, which he
won in a wire-to-wire landslide? Short putting. I live near
Chicago and followed Woods at both events, paying close attention
to him on the greens, and I noticed a big difference in his
putting technique, primarily within 10 feet of the hole. Last
month at Olympia Fields, Woods's left wrist was breaking down and
he was decelerating through impact, which is why he ranked 64th
in putting out of the 68 players who made the cut. At Cog Hill,
Woods said that he had spent the previous weeks practicing his
putting, and the work rejuvenated his stroke. Woods, whose 104
putts led the Western and tied a career-low, looked perfectly
balanced, with his left shoulder a tad lower than his right to
produce a level stroke. His left wrist remained firm and
flat--especially in the impact zone--while his putter went
straight back and straight through. His stroke was also more
compact, and he was accelerating through impact. In the final
round Woods used his rock-solid stroke at the 10th hole to bury a
four-footer for birdie (above) and take his biggest lead of the
week, a 10-shot margin over Robert Allenby and Rich Beem.

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ABC COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT (6) Jim Suttie teaches at Green Garden Country Club in Frankfort, Ill., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. COLOR PHOTOMONTAGE: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND)
TWO COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) BAD TWO COLOR PHOTOMONTAGES: ANDREW GOMBERT (6); JIM GUND (BACKGROUND) GOOD

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"Phil Mickelson's game is deteriorating because he's changing
the long and languid swing that produced 21 Tour victories. He
should scrap his new shorter action and try to get a little more
upright."

"Mike Weir has the Tour's most mechanically efficient swing.
He has no extraneous moving parts and takes a direct,
accelerating route into the ball."

"Optional testing for nonconforming equipment is ridiculous.
The Tour should randomly test 20 players a week, making sure that
those pros play a cross-section of brands."

"Intrusive fathers like B.J. Wie are ruining junior golfers.
Kids need to mature without their parents breathing down their
necks on every shot."

"Most people thought it was great having 14 teenagers in the
Women's Open, but not me. Kids today are becoming immersed in
golf at too young an age, and they don't have the tools to cope
with the pressure."

THE TIP
PUSH DRILL

In the late 1970S, when I was the coach at Brevard Community
College in Cocoa, Fla., and Paul Azinger was one of my players,
Paul showed me a terrific drill for short putts called the push
drill. You simply address a ball and, without taking a backswing,
you push the ball toward the target and then hold the finish. The
drill teaches you to accelerate through the ball and to lead the
stroke with your left hand, keeping the left wrist firm and flat
(GOOD) as opposed to releasing the wrist (BAD). You'll also learn
what I mean when I say, The back of the left hand is the putter
face. Essentially, the putter face mimics the motion of the back
of the left hand during the stroke, so you should always keep the
hand steady and moving squarely toward the target.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)