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Friday, October 7, 2011

Cantlay Can't Miss... Tiger Can

Cantlay at the

As I predicted, Patrick Cantlay handled the spotlight of being paired with Tiger just fine, thank you very much. On the outside chance you missed it, here's how the featured group finished their first round:
  • Patrick Cantlay -2 (T11)
  • Louis Oosthuizen E (T37)
  • Tiger Woods +2 (T86)
I don't know how Cantlay will do when he finally turns pro, but he certainly has the nerves to do very well on Tour.

As for Tiger, I'm going to withhold judgment until I see the rest of the tournament. While Thursday wasn't all that impressive, neither was it so horrible. Bear in mind that the leaders are only at -4 and Tiger's group played during the worst of the weather -- during which, of course, he posted the double-bogey that kept him from a nice round of par.

I'm not making excuses for Tiger. I just remember that, back at the Masters, he didn't start showing signs of good play until the second round... and he didn't really play well until the final round. I'm going to chalk this round up to nerves. And yes, I know that sounds like a weak excuse. But I wouldn't want to be judged on a single round either.

In fact, Cantlay agreed with me. He told Yahoo! UK Eurosport that "It's the first round of a tournament, so it doesn't mean anything."

You might enjoy reading that short article. It's entitled Golf-Amateur Cantlay Has Fun Taming the Tiger in Opening Round. Clever, huh?

I doubt that Tiger enjoyed it very much though. He's got some work to do if he wants to play this weekend.

The photo came from this Golf Channel page.


  1. Mike,

    In his earlier days, I thought Tiger had a pop stroke with his putting. I could be wrong. In Ruthless Putting, you use Bobby Jones as the model.
    Watching his stroke yesterday I saw that Tiger "seemed" uncomfortable with the putter and was using more of a folder stroke.

    Am I wrong?

  2. I'd have to take another look before I said for sure. He seemed to be all over the place Thursday, with no two strokes looking the same, and he said he was going to work on his stroke after the round, so it will probably look different today.

    The real problem for Tiger is that he says he's been changing his putting stroke and short game to try and make them more closely match his new full stroke. I think that's why he's started having so much trouble with his short game.

    Sometimes consistency really is the hobgoblin of little minds. While I agree in principle that all the "strokes" in your game should match, the fact remains that short games focus on accuracy and long games on power. That mandates at least some differences between the two. I think that's where Tiger's getting tripped up right now.

    Tiger never really used his wrists the way Jones did, which is a big factor in what I call a pop stroke. But pop or no pop, Jones let gravity do the work in swinging the club while Tiger definitely "hits" the ball. That hitting is what you noticed.

    That hitting is part of the reason modern players struggle so much with putting mechanics. A gravity stroke actually creates most of its mechanics without too much thought on the player's part. When you hit the ball, you have to think about mechanics or you'll muscle the putter too much.

    You can use any of the strokes I listed in my book as a "hitting stroke" or a "gravity stroke." No matter which stroke Tiger uses, past or present, he always seems to hit. And as I said in the book, that's not necessarily bad -- it's just that a "hit" stroke takes a lot more practice and is a lot more finicky than a gravity stroke.

  3. Yes, I saw the "hit" in his putting stroke before, but the few I watched yesterday it looked as if he was trying more for a roll.

    Yes, I know changing how you putt can really shake up your confidence. You understand that changing your swing will take some time, and you'll have good and bad, but it really can strike deep when you start missing the 5 footers that you once putted without thought.

    Any champion or golfer has to be blessed with selective memory. If you can't forget the poor ones you'll be too anxious to be any good at this game because there are always poor shots.

    He made the weekend, which is a good thing.