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March 26 2012

1:01 AM

Notes from inside the ropes

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Graeme McDowell made double bogey on the first hole Sunday, making his pursuit of Tiger Woods that much harder.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Golfers are always trying to balance aggression with patience and it’s a very thin line. Graeme McDowell got into contention by hitting greens. He hit a sparkling 45 of 54 greens in the first three days of the tournament, giving himself lots of birdie opportunities. What happened to that strategy to start the final round? On the very first hole, McDowell tried to squeeze an iron at a tight flagstick on the right-hand side and made double bogey.

Bermuda: The greens at Bay Hill are overseeded but the hot weather in Orlando this week caused the Bermuda to pop with a growth spurt. The grainy grass became more and more prevalent as the tournament progressed and the greens became increasingly harder to read. Players usually get better at reading greens as the tournament progresses, that was not this case this week.

Big Easy: You have to admire Ernie Els’ mental toughness. He putted away a title last week at the Transitions Championship and you would have thought Els would be fragile this week on Bay Hill’s crusty, firm, fast greens. Well, Ernie went 62 holes without a three-putt this week. Still, his T4 finish means he must win the Shell Houston Open or receive a special invitation in order to play the Masters.

Stats: Tiger Woods went from the tournament's 54th hole on Saturday to the 65th hole on Sunday without missing a green. His Driving? Woods did not miss a fairway until the ninth hole on Sunday and entered the tournament ranked No. 1 on TOUR in total driving. He dominated the par-5s, making 12 birdies in 16 chances this week. Woods’ win ended a run of 924 days without a PGA TOUR title. It was the first time since the 2010 Masters that Woods has put together four rounds under par.

Alignment: Woods has maintained all season that his putting stroke was fine. During a practice session, Woods discovered his alignment was bad. He was setting up to his putts with his shoulders slightly open. It took a few rounds for him to feel comfortable with a square address position, but his putting has improved.

Quiet please: Woods was obviously distracted by photographers and gallery at the 18th hole and backed off twice, however he never said a word. A simple nod to Joe LaCava was the signal his caddie needed to quiet the fans. PGA TOUR players always rely on the caddie to administer the justice.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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