Big Play With Patti McGowan

August 29, 2004

The belly putter turned Stewart Cink into the Tour's best putter, and he used it to drain a twisting 16-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole to frost his runaway win

ANALYSIS

STEWART CINK will be in big trouble if the USGA ever bans long putters. After ranking 112th in putting in 2002 using a conventional model, Cink switched to a belly putter in '03 and soared to fifth on the greens that year and first this season. Since the change, Cink has also won twice, earned $5.4 million and been named as a captain's pick for this year's Ryder Cup team. He now has perfect posture when he's putting, standing tall while bending forward at the hips. He is balanced with his weight on the balls of his feet and his arms hanging straight down. His preshot routine and stroke are both concise and flowing, which allows him to smoothly release the putter head at impact.

THE TIP

Raise Your Heels for Good Putting Posture

TO HAVE the proper putting posture, like Cink's, your weight should be on the balls of your feet, with your hands and arms hanging directly below your shoulders. To get a feel for that position, address the ball while bending slightly forward from the hip joints and letting your arms hang free. Then raise your heels off the ground. (Check your posture in a mirror.) If you're properly balanced, you will be able to hit a few putts without lowering your heels.

AND ANOTHER THING ...

"CONSIDERING THAT Tiger Woods is hitting the ball worse than he ever has and is still fourth on the money list, this could be his most impressive season."

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"I'VE NEVER seen a bigger change in a Tour player from one year to the next than the transformation Phil Mickelson made between 2003 and '04."

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"THERE WON'T be any Ryder Cup miracles next month. The U.S. is stocked with hot and experienced players while Europe has no firepower."

Patti McGowan runs the Knack4Golf school at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

COLOR PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (MCGOWAN, 2) COLOR PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (CINK) COLOR PHOTOMONTAGEERICK W. RASCO (MCGOWAN, 2)TODD BIGELOW/AURORA (BACKGROUND)

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)