Collin Morikawa was struggling to make putts two weeks ago. Then he found the saw
Collin Morikawa, around the middle of the month, had heard about something called a “saw” putting grip. Longtime pro Mark O’Meara used it. Morikawa thought he’d use it for a round, too. Shoot, he’d try a hammer, nail, screw or screwdriver grip if it meant he’d make a putt. He was hovering in the 190s range in Strokes Gained: Putting metric, and the Tour ranks just over 250 players.
That night, Morikawa couldn’t sleep.
The next day, he found O’Meara.
“I was like, let’s give it a shot,” Morikawa said. “And I made nothing. Like I made zero putts. But for some reason, I couldn’t sleep. And that’s never happened to me. I’ve never thought about putting or golf this much in my life, because it felt so good. It just felt so different on how I was putting that I knew I was heading down the right path.
“So I saw Mark on Friday, I believe, at Summit, where I practice in Vegas, and just asked him for 10 minutes. And we were talking for maybe an hour. He wasn’t giving me tips on how to do it; I was just asking him what he does and why he switched. I was still very hesitant.”
A little over two weeks later, Morikawa was dropping putts all over the Concession Golf Club during the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship. On Sunday, after entering the final round with a two-shot lead, Morikawa dropped a 6-footer on the 2nd. Then a 6-footer for birdie on 5, a 7-footer for birdie on 7 and an 11-footer birdie on 9. Then a 12-footer on 11, a 7-footer for birdie on 13 and, finally, a 10-footer on 18, which finished a three-under 69 for a three-shot win, his fourth career victory and a $1.8 million payday.
From hesitant to dominant.
“I’m so excited about this, because, yes, I’m going to have bad putting weeks here and there, but overall I feel way more confident, especially like on a putt like on 18, just to really roll the putter and get it rolling down the line,” Morikawa said.
The saw keeps his putter square. For a right-hander like Morikawa, the left hand grips the putter a bit like it would the other clubs, with the thumb pointing down the shaft. The right hand is the “saw,” which O’Meara described in a 2008 video for Golf Channel as “my top three fingers are on the top of the putter, my pinkie is just on the back edge of the putter and my thumb is around the back side.”
“It basically keeps my right hand in a straight line,” O’Meara said on the video.
Which Morikawa apparently needed. Analyst Gary Koch, during NBC’s broadcast on Sunday, said O’Meara told Morikawa that with his regular grip, “he got his hands too far ahead of the putter face when he made contact.”
“By going to this grip,” Koch said during a replay of the grip, “well, you can see right there, right back to square and the putter and the shaft lining up.”
Still, Morikawa, who recently turned just 24, had won three other tournaments, including last year’s PGA Championship. It wasn’t all that bad. But, he said, only some weeks were good. And that wasn’t good enough.
Then he heard about something called a “saw” putting grip.
“Now I feel confident I can take the stroke out of play and I can just really focus on speed, I can focus on the line, how do I get that ball to fall in the hole where I want it,” Morikawa said. “Where before I even noticed now how I’m aiming, before it was almost like a left-to-right putt. I would aim a little farther left. And I caught myself last week trying to aim farther left because I’d almost shove it, and I would jab at it.
“But if I look at all my putts I’ve hit over the past two weeks, I don’t think I’ve had one of those. And that’s what’s really exciting for me.”