I was at the Bay Hill Invitational this weekend rooting for Ernie Els to qualify for the Masters. I interviewed Ernie many years ago about his thoughts on the psychology of going low when he shot a career low round. What a super nice guy…
Just so happens that Tiger gets his groove back this week and wins the Bay Hill Invitational. Ernie finishes tied for 5th place. Hope Els gets a special invitation to the Masters in a couple weeks as he deserves it.
I know Tiger has been working on his speed control on the greens and actually focusing on good speed, especially after the first round when he had two three putts. And it showed with his results…
“I had really good control of my speed today. As I said yesterday when I was done is that I didn’t really concentrate on my speed as much as I should have; hence, I had two 3 putts yesterday, and that wasn’t going to be the case today. I went out there and really focused on my speed, made sure that I had perfect speed every putt, and consequently, I made some putts,” said Woods. And I don’t think he made any three putts the second day.
If you want to eliminate 3-putts, the fastest way is to work on your speed and touch on the greens. Last Friday, I was working with a student who has the yips with his putter. We talked about how to make the speed more automatic—one less thing to worry about when you are putting. When you are comfortable with your speed control, it’s easier to free up your putting stroke.
Back to Tiger… I noticed he was doing a lot more lag putting and less charge putting the final three days. The greens were super fast. Obviously lagging is easier to do when you have the 36-hole lead. But I think making too three-putts has held Tiger Back the last few months.
Again on Saturday Woods focused on the right speed with his putting and trying to gauge the speed of each green. When he’s putting well, he’s deadly inside 10 feet.
“I just relied on my lag putting. Just get up there and just lag putt it, because the greens were crusty, and they are all different speeds. That’s the difficult thing about it is that you have to adjust on the greens; every green?? the first six greens were all different speeds. So it was quite a test trying to get the feel right, even when you’re playing conservatively and you put yourself away from the flag,” Woods said after the third round.
With better speed control and touch on the greens you can eliminate 3-putts and also pick better lines. I suggest that you should spend half of your putting practice focusing on speed control and touch. When you have good touch, it’s easier to swing the putter freely. But unlike Tiger Woods, I want your speed control to come naturally from diligent practice with your touch—you should not have to “force it” or think too much about it when you play.