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    • Travis’ Takeaway: Kaymer’s Magical Putt on 17

    • Martin Kaymer's par conversion on No. 17 was the biggest shot in his victory at THE PLAYERS 2014. (Kevin Cox/Getty Images)Martin Kaymer's par conversion on No. 17 was the biggest shot in his victory at THE PLAYERS 2014. (Kevin Cox/Getty Images)

    After sinking the miraculous par putt on No. 17 that won him THE PLAYERS Championship on Sunday, Martin Kaymer admitted what everyone already knew—that he was just trying to get the big-bending, left-to-right, downhill putt close enough to two-putt and move on. But Kaymer hit the putt on the perfect line with the perfect speed, and made history on a hole which has provided heartbreak for so many golfers over the years.

    The fact that it was almost dark made Kaymer’s putt all the more remarkable. If you look at all of the factors that influence break, he had them all working against him—the slope direction was big-time left to right; the putt was severely downhill; the green speed/Stimpmeter reading was running very fast (despite the rain), and the putt was fairly lengthy (29 feet). Yet he was able to calculate all of this correctly, and aim far enough left to account for so much break.

    Here are a few things you can learn from Kaymer’s read that will help you in the future when it comes to calculating the correct amount of break to play.

    Martin Kaymer’s clutch 28-foot par save on No. 17 at THE PLAYERS
    • Highlights

      Martin Kaymer’s clutch 28-foot par save on No. 17 at THE PLAYERS

    1 – It’s much easier to see the slope direction (i.e., left to right, right to left) and severity of the slope (i.e., steepness) when looking low to high. It’s hard to see the entire slope when you’re standing behind your ball and looking down at the hole, just as it’s hard to see the degree of pitch to Augusta National’s fairways watching The Masters on television. Survey the entire putt, but spend most of your time down by the hole, looking up at the slope.

    2 – As you’re walking around the hole, probe the ground with your feet, sensing when it’s uphill and downhill. This will give you a better feel for the severity of the slope, as well as the slope direction.

    3 – When putting downhill, play twice the amount of break you’re anticipating. In other words, if you read 3 feet of break from left to right, play 6 feet of break.  On downhill putts, it’s hard to see as much break as there really is, and the deceleration phase is longer--i.e., the putt is hit much softer; thus, the ball is traveling much slower than it would on an uphill putt—which increases the break.

    Kaymer played more than enough break and started the ball well, well left of the hole, whereas most amateurs would have pushed the putt and missed on the low side. Sure, there was a huge element of luck involved, but even had Kaymer missed, the ball was barely moving when it found the cup, and he would’ve left himself an easy tap-in. It was a great putt, largely because of the amount of preparation he put into it beforehand.

    Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. To learn more about Travis--voted one of “America’s Best Young Teachers” by Golf Digest--and to book a lesson, click here.

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