Big Play Whether it was Tiger Woods at the American Express Championship or the U.S. team at the Solheim Cup, the key to victory was great putting

September 29, 2002

Golf tournaments are almost always won and lost on the greens,
and that was again the case on Sunday at the American Express
Championship. Retief Goosen shot a 10-under 62 but missed an
18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. He lost by a stroke to
Tiger Woods, who iced the victory with a 15-footer for birdie on
17 (above). Putting also was the reason that the U.S. beat Europe
to regain the Solheim Cup. "Both teams were very equal this
week," Annika Sorenstam said, "and it came down to whoever made
the most putts."

THE FUTURE IS NOW Because of our obsession with hitting the ball
farther and straighter, equipment manufacturers have largely
ignored the lowly putter. Luckily, improved technology is finally
coming to the aid of those who need help with the flat stick. New
space-age putters (inset, right) are being developed with the aid
of the same computers and high-speed cameras that have been
crucial in advancing club and ball design.

GIVE 'EM HAL Know this about Hal Sutton: He'll be ready for the
Ryder Cup. I've been working with Hal for two months, and though
he has struggled this season because of a series of ailments
(torn rib-cage muscle, sleep apnea and tendinitis), he shouldn't
be counted out. He was a driving force in the U.S. victory at
Brookline and thrives on the atmosphere of this event. I wouldn't
be surprised if he's the biggest point-winner for the U.S.

LESSON LEARNED I hope the U.S. Ryder Cup team was paying attention
to the Solheim Cup. Just because your squad has the best player
in the world, you're not guaranteed victory. With 10 worldwide
wins this year, Sorenstam has been more dominant than Woods, but
one player cannot carry a team.

SUZY Q'D I applaud Connecticut teaching pro Suzy Whaley for her
victory at the PGA of America's Connecticut Section Championship,
which gives her an automatic exemption into next year's Greater
Hartford Open, where she can become the first woman to play in a
PGA Tour event. My question is, Will it advance women's golf if
she decides to play and struggles from the men's tees? I'm not so
sure. If Whaley decides to tee it up, I hope it's not because of
outside pressure but because she really wants to compete.

Phillips is the director of the learning center at Caves Valley
Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., and one of Golf Magazine's Top
100 teachers.

FIVE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ABC (TOP) TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PORTER BINKS (2)

THE TIP

A proper setup is the foundation of a consistent putting stroke.
Tiger Woods's perfect address position has several checkpoints,
including a pro move (in yellow) that's common among the Tour's
best putters but unknown to most amateurs.

EYES
Set slightly inside ball

HANDS
Square to each other

PRO MOVE
FOREARMS AND THIGHS
Parallel to each other

KNEES
Slightly flexed

WEIGHT
Evenly distributed

STANCE Slightly open

NEW PUTTER
Look for Hal Sutton to unveil this prototype of the Titleist
Futura at the Ryder Cup. Scotty Cameron's back-weighted putter
will be available to the public in 2003.

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)