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August 27 2012

12:12 AM

Final-round observations

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A putting change for Phil Mickelson made little difference over the weekend at Bethpage Black.
By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent FARMINGDALE, N.Y. --Nick Watney won The Barclays with his ball striking. He hit his first 15 greens and wound up hitting 17 of 18, despite some inconsistent driving. Watney led the tournament in birdies making 23 of them including six in the last round. He did take an unusually large amount of putts, 34 in the final round, but that’s a reflection of his hitting 17 greens. Watney ranked 16th in strokes gained - putting this week and that’s a huge improvement over his performance this season. Watney came into The Barclays ranked 122nd on TOUR in the statistic. Green speed: Sergio Garcia lamented his putting in the final round and said green speed was one reason for the inconsistency. The greens were watered on Saturday night and were much slower on Sunday. Garcia also regretted his par 5 performance. He did not birdie a single par 5 in the final round. Rules quiz: Tiger Woods had an interesting situation in the final round. He hit his tee shot into the water hazard fronting the eighth green. His ball was inside the yellow demarcation line but just outside the water. A marshal marked the ball in the hazard with a red flag. When Woods arrived at the ball, he asked the marshal to remove the flag, saying he did not know if he could touch something in a hazard. Woods then chipped to 20 feet and made “par of the day” by sinking the putt. What about touching that flag in the hazard? It would have been fine, similar to removing a rake in a bunker. Woods just wanted to err on the side of caution. New grip: It was almost exactly a year ago, Phil Mickelson experiment with a long putter. This season he is working on the “brush stroke.” Mickelson modified his grip while putting for the weekend rounds, using something similar to a modified claw. How did it turn out? Mickelson took 28 and 30 putts on Thursday and Friday then took 28 and 30 putts on the weekend. He made eight birdies in the first 36 holes and seven birdies on the last 36. Wind direction: The Black Course at Bethpage State Park was much different for the final round. Greens had to be saturated overnight to result in such a dramatic change in speed. It was noticeable on the first hole where putts repeatedly came up short of the cup. There was also a change in wind direction. It blew out of the east for the first time this week. Players had to make quick adjustments. Tiger stroke: It was not a good weekend of putting for Tiger Woods. After taking 28 putts on Thursday and 29 on Friday, he had 31 and 30 strokes on the weekend. Woods ended the tournament ranked 41st for the week in strokes gained - putting. It appears to me, Woods gets quick in transition, which does not give the blade time to close. He frequently missed putts to the right of the cup. It’s the exact same stroke he struggled with at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. 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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