Tiger Woods got testy yesterday at the Honda Classic when pressed about this whole Navy SEAL business from Hank Haney’s book about their time together. “You’re a beauty, you know that?” he retorted to one reporter.
At a few points during the press conference, the moderator implored the hungry horde to “keep the talk about golf.” So that’s what we’ll do, because amid all of the kerfluffle, Woods said some very interesting things about his putter and his putting game.
One reporter inquired about Woods’s switch from his trusty Cameron putter to the Nike Method 001 blade (and on occasion, a Method mid mallet): “You had the same putter for years, and you have switched a couple times. Where does that fit into all of this, the actual putter itself?”
Woods replied, “I had to find a putter that comes off at the same pace as my Cameron did. We had to work on the grooves to make sure that it came off the same speed. Once we got that dialed in and the ball was coming off the same speed, then we are set. And that’s the mallet, whether I used the mallet at the Masters last year, or I’ve used this one, the one with the plumber neck, they are coming off the same speed as my Cameron, and that’s the beauty of it, because I don’t have to make any adjustments for speed.”
Woods also hinted that his putting issues are related to adapting his entire game to a new swing philosophy under Sean Foley: “I had three different teachers in my full swing. When I was with Butch, Butch wanted me to hinge it much more, because that’s what he used to putt. He’s from the old school; you hinge it and you hit it. Hank was more rotational, and Sean is not as much. There’s a blend to all of that, and ironically enough, when I have to make a putt down the stretch on the back nine, all of that’s out the window and I just putt.”
He added, “When I’m in the right posture, all of my lines are good. I can roll the ball pretty good. I think that for some reason, I feel more comfortable when there’s more heat on down the back nine on Sunday, or if I have to make a certain putt. For some reason, I’ve made more of those and I’ve putted better. I don’t know why that is. I wish I knew. I tend to get into the correct posture more frequently when that’s the case.”
Of course, there have been some Sundays lately when that hasn’t happened, so it’s hard to say where mechanics end and belief begins when it comes to the state of Woods’ putting game.
Ultimately, Woods remains bullish on the possibility of recovering his old putting prowess: “I just have not put in as much time in as I needed to. If I start spend more time doing it, it starts to come around. Just like my full swing, I log in the time, and consequently, I’m hitting the ball really, really well.”
As for Haney’s book, it has already become a distraction, if not for Woods, for the media. To date, only an excerpt has been published. It could get wild and woolly once the entire book is revealed. We’ll be keeping an eye on it…After all, it could contain some great putting insights from a time when Tiger Woods was lights out on the green.