June 18, 2022
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Aaron Wise carded two 68's to plant himself firmly on the leaderboard at the U.S. Open. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Aaron Wise turned pro six years ago but the impact of the two years he spent at the University of Oregon, where he won the 2016 NCAA title, are still being felt today.
The long putter that he’s wielding at the U.S. Open once belonged to his college coach, the former TOUR player Casey Martin.
Putting has been a hindrance for Wise, who was the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year four years ago. After finishing 51st in Strokes Gained: Putting during his breakout season of 2018, when he won the AT&T Byron Nelson and qualified for the TOUR Championship, he’s ranked outside the top 170 in that metric in each of the previous three seasons.
He hasn’t won on TOUR or qualified for East Lake since, but the long putter he’s using at this week’s U.S. Open appears to have him back on track. Wise, 25, is 30th in the FedExCup after a runner-up finish at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday and now in contention at the U.S. Open.
He went back to the long putter, which he started using in college, last August.
“It was one of those things that I had tried before and I kind of forgot about it,” Wise told PGATOUR.COM in November. “I thought it might be worth a shot.”
The switch has paid off, as Wise has four top-10s this season, matching his career-high from that 2018 season. He’s been exactly a TOUR average putter this season – ranking 109th in Strokes Gained: Putting, averaging 0.00 strokes gained per round – but that’s been enough for him to have success after losing strokes on the greens in each of the past three seasons. He is 16th in Strokes Gained: Approach this season.
The TaylorMade Ghost putter has a history in the U.S. Open, as Martin used it a decade ago when he qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. According to Golf.com, the only modification Wise has made to the putter is cutting it down from 49 to 46 inches since the putter can no longer be anchored. Wise only used the putter for a few months in college, but he won with the club and hung onto it after its short stint in his bag came to an end.
“I just took his gamer and never gave it back,” Wise told Golf.com. “But he’s OK with it. Hopefully, it gives me some good mojo this week.”
So far, it has.