Tiger Woods made 27 birdies in 72 holes -- and a friendly putting lesson from Steve Stricker helped.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Did you see one golf ball spin on the greens this entire week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship?
When players arrived on site, the TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral was already playing fast, both the fairways and the greens. Particularly the greens. Usually, the greens receive less and less water as the tournament progresses, leading to very firm putting surfaces by the weekend. There was no gradual progression this week in Doral, Fla., the greens just became faster and faster. It’s unhealthy to deprive a golf course of water but the entire Trump Doral complex is getting a makeover for 2014 so it did not really matter if greens became stressed.
Lesson learned: Steve Stricker helped Tiger Woods with his putting on Wednesday. He discovered Woods was set up a little open, which affected both his alignment and his stroke. How did Tiger putt? He made 27 birdies in 72 holes and took just 100 putts en route to his victory. It would be a mistake to say Stricker’s lesson was the reason Woods won. Tiger still had to make the putts, but as the birdies fell his confidence certainly grew.
Funny guy: Rory McIlroy has to feel much better about his game. He admits he was frustrated at the start of the week but finished strong by shooting a 65 on Sunday. He was bogey-free in the final round, making five birdies and an eagle. McIlroy may still be taking the club back slightly to the outside, but his confidence has to be greatly improved. His sense of humor never left. The walking scorer temporarily lost sight on McIlroy on Thursday and told him, “I thought I lost you there for a minute.” To which McIlroy replied, “No, that was last week,” referencing his withdrawal from The Honda Classic.
Percentage: With his wife Nicki caddying this week, the Strickers saved some considerable cash. A caddie usually gets 5 percent of a player’s winnings but is bumped up to 8 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a victory. That percentage is in addition to the weekly salary. By finishing second, Stricker kept about $80,000 in the family. On the other hand, when wives caddie for players, the percentage sometimes changes. In many cases, the wife will tell you, “I kept it all.”
Back nine: The final nine holes at TPC Blue Monster were ripe for scoring. Six of the nine holes played under par but Phil Mickelson did not take advantage. His last birdie of the tournament came at the eighth and he played his final nine in 1 over with a bogey at the 11th. That’s a frustrating finish for a player that birdied four of the first eight holes and had played the back nine in 6 under coming into the final round. Some of that finish is due to the golf course. The greens got so crusty that it was hard to putt aggressively.
TPC Blue Monster: Even with the greens rolling at 13.5 on the stimp meter, TPC Blue Monster was still ripe for scoring. Nine of the 18 holes played under par for the week. The exception was the final hole. The 18th is a monster. It was the hardest hole of the week playing to a stroke average of 4.38 and a full stroke over par in the final round. The entire course will receive a makeover before the 2014 tournbament with Gil Hanse being brought in for the redesign. It will be interesting to see how Donald Trump and Hanse work together on this project. Trump has mentioned an island green on the 15th hole. The drivable 372-yard 16th hole gave up 78 birdies this week and there is the possibility a lake on the left will be brought closer to the green.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.