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Monday, August 24, 2009

Wyndham Final & A Putting Tip

Ryan Moore beat Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn to record his first PGA victory; Sergio finished one back in solo 4th after carding 3 birdies followed by 3 bogeys. I didn’t see the whole telecast, but I saw the last two bogeys and some other putts. Sergio may feel bad about his putting, but he really looked pretty good to me. His strokes were smooth and his distance control was very good; his primary problems seemed to be an occasional misread (which can happen to anybody) and some occasional head movement. This is a minor problem that many of you may be dealing with, and I’d like to tell you how to identify the cause and fix it quickly.

The head movement I saw Sergio making is a common problem among golfers―he wanted to see his ball go into the cup, so he turned his head toward the hole as he struck the ball. When he does this, it usually shows up as a pushed putt. Why? Because Sergio’s short game teacher is Stan Utley, and Utley teaches a putting stroke that follows a gentle arc as he putts. When Sergio turns his head toward the hole as strokes the ball, he changes the arc of the putting stroke. The intended contact point moves closer to the hole and he leaves the face open, pushing the putt. The drawing below shows this. See how the putter arc in the second drawing has shifted toward the hole so the putter face doesn’t square up?

Comparison of putting paths

If you putt the way Sergio does, the obvious solution is to keep looking at the spot where you meant to contact the ball until it’s well on its way to the hole. And that’s a simple thing to do, once you know the cause. Sergio is actually putting very well, and this is a minor problem that shouldn’t cause him any long-term grief.

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