Once again Dr. Putt has received many requests for comments on our young prodigy, Mr. Tiger Woods. Were Dr. Putt to give individual comments on all of these requests, this column would run the danger that the Golf Channel is now facing, that of becoming an "all-Tiger-all-the-time" medium in which superlatives become the norm. Certainly we can learn many things from Mr. Woods, and without question he is worthy of much admiration and comment, but most of his game is simply out of reach for most all of us. However, his putting prowess is something to which we can aspire, with at least some possibility of some success.
In response to your requests, Dr. Putt will write a column on Mr. Wood's putting routine following the 2000 PGA. As Dr. Putt speculated in the earlier column on the 2000 U.S. Open, Mr. Woods does draw a line on his ball and then places it with the line pointing down the intended path of the putt to assist him in aiming and alignment. Dr. Putt will write a separate column on this aiming and alignment technique in the days to come. In this column Dr. Putt will restrict his comments to the relative importance of putting in Mr. Wood's impressive victory in the British Open.
Compared to the 2000 U.S. Open, putting did play a relatively more significant role in the 2000 British Open. But once again, putting was not determinant in the win. Mr. Woods' 269 (-19) was 8 strokes better than Ernie Els' and Thomas Bjorn's 277. Mr. Woods was tied for 9th in putting with 125 putts, or 31.25 per round. Had he putted at the average for the field of 72 players, with 130 putts, he still would have won the tournament, but the victory would have been much closer. Only those who ranked 1 and 2 in putting (Bob May at 121 and Steve Elkington at 122) could have beaten him. However, their low putting totals were the result of very low rankings in greens hit in regulation (Mr. May ranked at 56th and Mr. Elkington at 71st). They were one-putting after their many chip shots. What is remarkable about Mr. Wood's 9th ranking in putting is that he was 1st in greens hit in regulation. The second place finishers putted about the same as Mr. Woods (Mr. Els had 126 putts and Mr. Bjorn had 124 putts), but their greens hit in regulation ranked them at 17th and 34th respectively. What this means, dear reader, is that young Mr. Woods was not only hitting the greens, but he was hitting them close to the pin, and he was also doing rather well on relatively long putts. So we may conclude that while his putting was magnificent, his iron play was even more magnificent. Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of this remarkable performance was that he did not hit a single bunker. This was the result of a wonderful game off the tee (in which he ranked 7th in fairways hit) and his magnificent iron play.
Dr. Putt has already run dangerous deficit on his quota of superlatives for this column. Therefore he should quickly reach a conclusion before the superlative police charge him with excessive overindulgence. The point, dear readers, is that while good (we will not count "good" as a superlative) putting can compensate for poor iron play, even the best (oops--the deficit grows) putting must be combined with reasonably good iron play (relative to the field against which one is playing) in order to achieve success. Golf is not a one-dimensional game.
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