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February 29 2012

6:40 PM

Nome keys Mahan, Tiger gets a grip

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Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Hunter Mahan was dialed in all week at Dove Mountain with his new Ping Nome putter.

By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

Seems inconceivable that a PGA TOUR player’s aim on the greens could be off by entire inches, but Hunter Mahan found that to be the case last week before the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Mahan had a session Monday with Ping Tour rep Matt Rollins at Dove Mountain’s putting green, and a laser device put in front of Mahan’s putterface found his alignment to be left of the hole by a couple inches.

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Rollins handed Mahan the company’s new Nome putter, a mallet made with high-grade aluminum and tungsten sole plates which increase MOI. It has a black alignment bar with white sight lines, and Mahan immediately corrected his left-aiming issue.

“This one has a little less offset and it's helping me aim better, so basically I'm aiming where I think I'm supposed to be aiming. Before I was aiming a little more left than I thought, so I was kind of pushing my putts. I wasn't just getting like a true roll and a true read,” Mahan said Friday after advancing to the quarterfinals. “I have just a lot of confidence where I'm starting the ball. I think I'm starting it there and I'm hitting it right there.

“Last week (T24 at the Northern Trust Open) I had no sense of the greens and missed everything. But for some reason this week I feel confident. I feel confident whenever I get on the green I'm going to make it. It's a good feeling to have right now.”

Two days later, Mahan won the Accenture. From a couple inches left to the top of one of the season’s most prestigious events in six days.

The Ping Nome will arrive at golf shops in the first week of April.

STRONG SHOWING: Ping made out big at Accenture with three staff players among the last four players standing – Mahan, Mark Wilson and Lee Westwood. The company’s players went a collective 19-6 for the event, including 6-0 on day one (Ping players Miguel Angel Jimenez, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson also were in the field).

SEEING YELLOW: Skip Kendall used a yellow Srixon Z-Star XV Tour to weeks ago in winning the Nationwide Tour season opener, the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, then put it in play last week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on the PGA TOUR. Gary Christian and Robert Gamez also used the yellow ball, while Charlie Beljan used a yellow Z-Star Tour.

SIZING UP: Sang-moon Bae made a surprising run to the quarterfinals at Accenture before losing to eventual runner-up Rory McIlroy. He used a Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood after auditioning both the Octane Tour and Razr X Black 3-woods on the range and the course before the matches. He had the 3-woods set up identically to 14.5 degrees for his test.

TIGER TALK: Tiger Woods met the media Wednesday at The Honda Classic and talked about putting, including how he has stayed loyal to Nike putters. Despite his struggles on the greens, Woods hasn’t gone back to the Titleist Scotty Cameron model he used during his decade-plus of dominance.

“I had to find a putter that comes off at the same pace as my Cameron did. We had to work on the grooves to make sure that it came off the same speed. Once we got that dialed in and the ball was coming off the same speed, then we are set,” Woods said. “And that's the mallet … or the one with the plumber neck, they are coming off the same speed as my Cameron, and that's the beauty of it, because I don't have to make any adjustments for speed.”

Woods has made one return to the old days – putting a Ping grip back in play, which he says provides more swing in his stroke.

A GOOD FIT: Callaway, the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave are teaming up this season to custom-fit three veterans for new clubs at a dozen TOUR events.

The first fitting was Tuesday on the range at The Honda Classic, with Sgt. Kyle Evans (a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who served two tours of duty in Iraq), Daniel Robinson (who served in Kuwait), and Ben Baar, a 20-year veteran of the Army who was injured in the Middle East.

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