In golf, a simple swing thought can go a long way — as long as you remember it. That’s true for most weekend mid-handicappers, and this week it was true for Tiger Woods, too.
Woods has worked in recent months with performance coach Matt Killen, who has focused in particular on his short game. Woods said that Killen had one simple piece of advice to focus on for the Zozo Championship.
“It was something I figured out on the first day, just move my hands a little further forward,” Woods said in his post-round press conference. “That was it. He just kept reminding me because I tend to forget things like that.”
It’s a simple concept, but there are two things any golfer can take away from Woods’ remarks.
The first point is to make sure you’re setting yourself up to make proper and consistent impact — even with putter. Woods likes to be able to see a little bit of loft when he sets up his putter to the ball. Traditionally, he’s favored putters with slightly more loft than your average Tour player, and he also sets up with his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS blade ever so slightly open to the target. If he doesn’t keep that focus on having his hands slightly forward as he rotates the putter head through impact, the ball won’t come off the face square.
Even Woods doesn’t have a “perfect” putting stroke. An old SAM PuttLab analysis broke it down to study the way his blade rotated through impact and found that he starts with the blade slightly open (2.5º) and makes contact with the blade slightly closed (.9º) but his path at impact was an impeccable 0.0º.
Nor does Woods hit the dead center of the putter face — he actually makes contact slightly out on the toe. Over and over and over. So, is his putting stroke perfect? No. Is it consistent, reliable and repeatable? Yes.
The second point is even simpler. When you get a useful swing thought, write it down! Most of us don’t have performance coaches, so we need to remind ourselves of the little triggers that get our bodies moving in the proper direction. Make a note on your phone and go back to check that note whenever you feel slightly off. Chances are, a swing thought that worked before will help you again.
If you watched Woods putt this weekend, it’s not as though his forward press was even visible to the naked eye. But it was a subtle change that clearly got his putter moving in the right way.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 27, 2019
But the thought was certainly an effective one. Woods averaged 1.618 putts per green in regulation, the best in the field (hitting his irons close helped, too). And he capped off win No. 82 in dramatic fashion with a birdie putt on No. 18.
A birdie at the last for @TigerWoods! 🏆
He seals win No. 82 @ZOZOCHAMP in style.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 28, 2019
“Somehow I was able to finish out on top and made the key putts this week,” he said after his round. Of course, there’s no way it’s that simple. Unless you’re Tiger Woods.