Jul
23
2010
K.J. Choi Ditches Side-Saddle Putting and Extra Caddie, Claims Lead at Scandinavian Masters
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

KJ Choi posted scores of 68-67 for a two-day total of nine-under to take the early lead at the Scandinavian Masters by a shot over Richard S. Johnson and two clear of British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Recently, Choi has been making headlines for adopting the peculiar “side-saddle” putting stroke — which looked more like he was playing croquet than golf — in his previous two starts at the John Deere Classic and the British Open. Choi, who had been batting 14 for 14 in cuts made, missed weekend play for the first times in 2010. What’s that saying? If it ain’t broke…

Well known for his proclivity of tinkering with equipment, Choi reverted to the conventional putting method at this week’s Scandinavian Masters. And whaddaya know? He’s put himself in prime position to break his seven-year winless drought in Europe.

“I need more practice at it,” said Choi, who missed a series of makeable putts in the finishing holes. “These greens are very slopey.”

When players make sudden changes in their equipment or technique, it’s usually a sign of desperation, like they’re searching for a quick fix. But with Choi’s history of experimenting, the side-saddle style might just have felt comfortable at the time (though it didn’t look like it).

Either way, reverting back to his conventional stroke appears to have been the correct call this week.

Meanwhile, Choi also ended another one of his unusual practices. For the past three years, he employed two caddies — one for brawn and the other for brains. In other words, Choi had a man who lugged his clubs around and another man, the esteemed Andy Prodger, who advised him on club selection and putting lines. According to a Reuters report, it’s permitted in the rules of golf to have two caddies, but only one is allowed to dish advice. (I had no idea that he had two guys out there with him or that was legal.)

But at the Scandinavian Masters, Prodger is back to pulling full caddie duties as both the bag carrier and advice-giver. “[Choi] got fed up with people making fun of him for having two caddies,” the caddie told Reuters.

Perhaps two weeks as the laughingstock among his colleagues with his croquet-like putting technique prompted him to switch back to the conventional flatstick. One thing’s for sure — the changes are working so far.

[Photo via CNN.com]