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Drive For Dough It wasn't showy putting that won Tiger Woods the Masters

April 06, 1998
April 06, 1998

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April 6, 1998

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Drive For Dough It wasn't showy putting that won Tiger Woods the Masters

As everyone knows, green jackets are won with the putter. "You
don't win the Masters because you hit the driver 300 yards,"
says 1994 Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal. "When Tiger won
last year, everyone focused on his distance. But look at his
putting average. It was great. That's where you win the
tournament."

This is an article from the April 6, 1998 issue Original Layout

Sorry, Jose, but no way. It only seemed that Woods was putting
the lights out in Georgia last spring, perhaps because every
important putt he made was replayed ad infinitum. But his
putting average wasn't great. Woods's 117 putts for the week--an
average of 1.63 per green--ranked only 13th among players who
made the cut. In fact, as the chart below shows, no Masters
champ in the past 10 years has used the putter so many times.

How could Woods shoot a record-breaking 18-under-par 270 with so
many putts? For starters, he hit a lot of greens in regulation.
Woods and runner-up Tom Kite both hit a tournament-leading 55 of
72 greens, and many of Woods's iron shots landed close enough to
the hole that there was virtually no chance he would three-putt.
But to get within range of so many greens, Woods needed his woods.

He won with muscle, not finesse. His average drive traveled 323
yards, a whopping 25 yards farther than that of the
second-ranked driver, Scott McCarron. Those monster drives
allowed Woods to dominate the tournament--and not only by
getting him close enough to hit the greens of Augusta National's
par-4 holes with ease. More important, his length turned the
par-5s into par-4s. He didn't have to hole long birdie putts; he
was able to hit the par-5s in two and casually two-putt for
birdie.

Yes, Woods played well on Augusta National's 10 par-4 holes. He
was five under. But Tiger devoured the par-5s, making two
eagles, 10 birdies, three pars and a lone bogey in 16 tries to
go 13 under. Only three players in Masters history have played
the long holes better: Greg Norman was 15 under in '95, yet
finished third, thanks to a first-round 73. Byron Nelson tied
for second while going 14 under in '47, and in '76 Raymond Floyd
won the tournament while going 14 under.

Can Woods win again and join Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo as
Augusta's only back-to-back winners? Here's a number to
consider: After finishing 60th on Tour in putting in 1997, Woods
ranks even lower this year, 95th. He'll have to drive the ball
better than ever to make up for putting like that.

COLOR PHOTO: BOB MARTIN [Tiger Woods playing golf surrounded by crowd]

WINNER PUTTS AVERAGE RANK

1997 Tiger Woods 117 1.63 13th
1996 Nick Faldo 112 1.56 5th
1995 Ben Crenshaw 110 1.53 3rd
1994 Jose Maria Olazabal 111 1.54 3rd
1993 Bernhard Langer 109 1.51 4th
1992 Fred Couples 115 1.60 9th
1991 Ian Woosnam 114 1.58 13th
1990 Nick Faldo 110 1.53 1st
1989 Nick Faldo 115 1.60 7th
1988 Sandy Lyle 107 1.49 2nd

RINGER SCORES

How good was the 270 Tiger Woods shot last year in the Masters?
Better by a stroke than the lowest first, second, third and
final rounds that Ben Hogan ever played at Augusta National.
Here's how some of the game's greats would've fared at Augusta
had they been able to string together their best score from each
day.

Greg Norman 63-68-66-64-261
Jack Nicklaus 67-65-64-65-261
Gary Player 65-67-66-64-262
Nick Faldo 68-67-66-65-266
Raymond Floyd 65-66-68-67-266
Nick Price 70-69-63-66-268
Arnold Palmer 67-66-68-67-268
Johnny Miller 69-69-65-66-269
Tom Watson 68-67-67-67-269
Sam Snead 69-67-67-67-270
Ben Hogan 69-68-66-68-271

1-2 PUNCH

Do women gain more from hitting greens than men? Here are the
greens in regulation and scoring ranks for PGA Tour and LPGA
greens leaders.

PGA Tour GIR Scoring
Steve Flesch 1 T98
Paul Azinger 2 T98

LPGA
Karrie Webb 1 3
Annika Sorenstam 2 1

THE NUMBER

73
Weeks between Lee Trevino's previous Senior tour victory at the
1996 Emerald Coast Classic, and his win in last week's
Southwestern Bell Dominion.