Jul
13
2010
Tiger Breaks Up With Scotty
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

In a curious turn of events, Tiger Woods has called it quits with his Scotty Cameron putter. After 11 years, 63 wins and $83.6 million earned, Tiger has switched to the Nike Method putter for the British Open.

“I have a new putter in the bag,” he said nonchalantly after explaining his decision on which 2-iron he’ll play. “I’ve switched to the Nike putter for this week.”

Before informing those of us packed in the media room on Tuesday afternoon that he had switched putters, Tiger, who always waxes poetic about all things St. Andrews, made a point to whine about the slow greens.

“The greens aren’t up to speed,” he said. “Today one of the guys was out there doing a stimpmetre and it was under 10, so obviously not up to speed, at least not yet.”

“It comes off [the Nike putter] faster, which one these greens is something that I’ve always struggled on slower greens,” he explained. “I haven’t had to make that much of an adjustment because the ball is coming off a little quicker.”

Here’s my favorite quote of Tiger’s that doesn’t make much sense when you think about just how awful he’s putted on fast greens this year, too:

“It’s one of those things where I’ve always struggled on slower greens. I’ve always putted well on faster greens. This putter does come off faster with the new groove technology. It rolls the ball better and rolls it faster. It gets it rolling faster. So these greens, I’ve had to make very little adjustment in how hard I’m hitting it compared to if I had my older putter. That’s something Stevie and I have been talking about over the years together, is what can I do on slower greens? I always seem to struggle on them and can’t wait to get to the faster greens that we play on Tour.”

Uhh, didn’t he win putting on these same slow greens when he won the Open at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005? Why make the change now?

At the US Open, it was the bumpy greens — the same ones he putted on when he blitzed the field by 15 shots in 2000. And now it’s that the Old Course’s greens are even slower than usual. That’s all awful lot of whining and blaming outside forces (even though in all fairness, both statements are somewhat true, but we didn’t hear this attitude in the past).

In other words, the putter change is just another red flag that he’s desperate to find a fix for his ailing game. At the AT&T National two weeks ago, Tiger described his putting as “awful.” Throughout the week, he missed five-footers more than once in a round — those were his strength pre-scandal. We’ve probably seen Tiger miss more five-footers this year than all of last year combined.

From the 5-10′ feet range, he’s putting 53.97%, which ranks him at 109th on Tour this season. Last year he finished 9th and made 62.07% of putts from the same range.

Meanwhile, even though he’s “struggled” on slower greens, he later said, “The two years that I’ve played well here, I’ve lag-putted beautifully…”

Huh? Aren’t those contradictory statements?

It’s not unusual for players to switch putters the week of a major. If they come across one that suits their eye or just feels pure, they’ll make the switch. But for Tiger, it’s curious that it’s the first time he’s done this in 11 years, especially being that it’s been the longest stretch where he hasn’t won a tournament.

Perhaps Tiger should look into finding a new putting stroke. Or maybe he’s just not the same Tiger who won the Open by a commanding six strokes in 2005 at St. Andrews.

Either way, poor Scotty.