Woods Must Cure Putter Problems or Face Future as an Also Ran
Tiger Woods came up short in his pursuit of a sixth victory at the Memorial Tournament, and if he is to return to the winner’s circle he will need to find a solution with the putter.
The former world number one served up an exhibition in iron play over the course of the week, peppering pins with regularity, but the short stick undid his chances of victory.
Woods finished six shots adrift of eventual winner Bryson De Chambeau, but he could easily have been contesting the playoff or claiming victory on his own had he not putted abysmally.
The 42-year-old topped a number of stat categories over the week, but in strokes gained putting he was second last.
“If I just putt normally, I probably would be right there with those guys and up there in the last couple of groups,” Woods said per the PGA Tour’s official website.
“I just need to hit better putts. This week I didn’t feel comfortable with my lines and my feel was a little bit off. Consequently I missed a bunch of putts.”
Woods will now take a week off in preparation for the second major of the season, the US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
If he hits the ball from tee to green like he did at Muirfield Village, Woods will be in contention for major glory. And he feels that a minor adjustment and some hard work will see him emerge from his putting slump.
“It’s just a minor tweak here and there,” Woods said. “I’ve just got to get more comfortable with my lines and make sure I’m consistent with my lines. But it’s just reps. As soon as I get the reps in I’ll be all right.”
During his enforced spell on the sidelines on account of injury and personal troubles, there was a feeling that Woods would not make a competitive return to the top of the sport. The way he has played in recent months has dispelled that notion, but if he is to convert the abundant promise into wins he needs to get his sparkle back on the greens.
When Woods was at the peak of his powers and dominating the sport, he was deadly on the greens. In the heat of battle on a Sunday, if Woods needed a putt to drop he would seem to will the ball into the cup. And he was pretty much automatic from inside 10 feet.
That sort of play would break the spirit of opponents and was one of the reasons why he was able to rack up 14 major wins.
At the Memorial Tournament he was tentative and lacking belief on the greens.
Rivals, commentators and pundits spent the week marvelling at his play from tee to green, and it was a joy, but he needs to rediscover the magic touch on the greens to complete the comeback.