Tiger experiments with new putter
August 06, 2020
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- August 06, 2020
- Tiger Woods on the putting green on Wednesday at the PGA Championship. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO – Tiger Woods began the PGA Championship without the putter he has relied on for 14 of his 15 major championship victories.
Woods switched from his old faithful Scotty Cameron Newport II putter to a newer Newport that has added length and the ability to shift weight from heel and toe. He practiced with the new model for the second straight day on Wednesday and it was in his bag for Thursday's first round.
Woods first started using his trusty Newport in 1999 and kept it in the bag for 11 years during which he won 13 majors. While he moved to a Nike putter in 2010 and tried a few TaylorMade putters in 2018 after returning from back fusion surgery, it was a move back to the Newport that coincided with success.
Woods claimed his 80th (2018 TOUR Championship), 81st (2019 Masters) and record tying 82nd (2020 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP) PGA TOUR wins with it back in the bag, but if the pre-tournament practice is any guide he will start Round 1 at TPC Harding Park with the new flat stick.
“It's basically the same putter with a little bit more flexibility. He's able to change the weights around a little bit, but the length is the difference. He's got a little more length on there, and that's just so he can practice a little bit more without back pain,” friend and fellow competitor Steve Stricker said after finishing Wednesday’s practice round with Woods.
“That's what excites him the most is that he was able to put in a lot of time with this putter, and watching him putt, it looked exactly the same to me. He rolled the ball great. His game is in great shape. He's obviously always been a great iron player, and he hit some great irons today. He's still got some length.”
Stricker has been the putting whisperer for many TOUR players over the years, including Woods. He usually deals with set up issues but he’s not been one to change equipment right before a major championship. Still the former Presidents Cup captain and current Ryder Cup captain expects Woods can make it work if he does indeed commit to the switch.
Woods practiced similarly prior to the 2019 Open Championship but then failed to make the change on game day before missing the cut.
“I've maybe changed putters in my whole career a handful of times let alone the week before a major; I've never done that. But he's Tiger Woods. He'll be just fine. He's got a lot of talent when it comes to that short stick and he'll do just fine,” Stricker said.
“I expect good things from him if he can keep his body playable. With this weather, it's a challenge. It's cool, it's damp, and so I imagine that will be probably the biggest challenge for him this week is to be able to feel like his body is 100 percent and give it a rip.”