Tiger Woods tilted his back about 20 degrees downward, lowering his arms to hold onto his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Timeless putter. He looked up on the par-4 13th hole at TPC Harding Park on Thursday, put his head back over his ball and putted the 33-footer. It dropped. Birdie, one of five on the day during the first round of the PGA Championship.
A couple of degrees and a couple of inches went a long way.
Woods subbed in the putter over a slightly shorter Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS. More inches meant less bend. Less bend meant more comfort for his back, which he’s injured multiple times in his career.
More comfort meant fewer strokes. Woods shot a 2-under 68, with six one-putts and zero three-putts.
“Well, I’ve been messing around with this putter for the better part of over a year,” Woods said. “You know, it’s difficult for me to bend over at times, and so practicing putting, I don’t spend the hours I used to. Wasn’t unusual for me to spend four, five, six hours putting, per day. I certainly can’t log that with my back being fused.
“Most of the guys on the Champions Tour have gone to longer putters as they have gotten older, because it’s easier to bend over, or not bend over. And so this putter is just a little bit longer and I’ve been able to spend a little bit more time putting.”
The new putter is longer. The old putter is long on history.
The Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS has won 14 of Woods’ 15 majors. But “every now and again, it needs to be benched and this was a good week for it,” he said.
Woods birdied the 4th hole with a 4-foot birdie. He birdied the 5th with a 14-footer. He birdied the 7th with a 13-footer. He birdied the 10th with an 8-footer. On the 18th hole, his ninth of the day after starting on No. 10, Woods dropped a 21-footer for par.
The new putter will likely be in the bag again on Friday.
The old one is close to the bag. It made the trip, too.
“Well, I’ve always messed with it,” Woods said. “I’ve had it since, what, ’99, 21 years.
“I regrip it all the time because the grip wears out, as you know. If you use it enough times and towel it off, it gets a little bit smaller. So I regrip it quite often. But that putter is always traveling with me.”