Roberts tinkers with putting stroke, ends long drought

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Loren Roberts celebrates his first victory in almost two years at the Toshiba Classic.
March 18, 2012
John Reger, Special to PGATOUR.COM

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- It had been 21 months and 34 events since Loren Roberts had won a Champions Tour event, and the victory erased any doubts he may have had about winning again.


Roberts bolted out to a four-shot lead but watched it unravel on the back nine, where he made bogeys on three of the last five holes.

"We did make it interesting," Roberts said. "I got off to a really good start. I hit a snag on the back and got out of rhythm.

Known as one of the better putters on tour, it was ironic that his putting let him down, especially on No. 16 and 17, where his putts were both less than 6 feet.

"So I'm thinking this putt, I'm just going to ease it down there," Roberts said about the putt on 16. "It's got to go left?to?right. You know, I just lipped it out on the left side. I probably gave it too much break."

Roberts is ranked 4th on the Champions Tour in putting average at 1.71 and 13th in putts per round with 28.92.

This week was no different -- he was second in putting rank average but did stumble when he needed to make putts. Fortunately the one putt he needed, a 5-footer on the final hole, he drained.

Roberts did some tinkering with his putting stroke last week and was satisfied with the change.

"I was struggling with the putter last year to be honest with you," Langer said. "I made a big change last week at home when I was messing around with it and looked at some old films, and I saw that my shaft position at impact, before when I was putting good, I had a little bit more shaft lean."

Conventional thinking on the Champions Tour is that golfers have a five-year window from when they join to tour at 50 as far as winning. Roberts at 56 was starting to wonder if his time had passed.

"They always say the cutoff date is 55," Roberts said. "I was getting a little worried about it. I had a couple of chances last year. But really didn't play good enough to really warrant a win last year. This really was huge for me today. "

Last year Roberts was winless. Though he finished four times in the top 10, he was frustrated at his play.

"I was getting a little hacked off at my game," Roberts said. "I wasn't happy with where I was hitting. I was trying to force it a little bit."

Bernard Langer, who finished second at the Toshiba Classic, believes Roberts can win more.

"We all know he is a wonderful putter, has a great short game," Langer said. "He hits the ball usually very straight. You can say yes I'm surprised he hasn't won more. On the other hand there are a lot of other great players out here that can win, too."

Roberts is going to work on trying to keep his career momentum going.

"I've got some things to work on my golf swing," Roberts said. "We all do. We are never happy with how we play."