WHO: Tiger Woods
WHAT: 15-foot (17th hole) and six-foot (18th hole) birdie putts
WHERE: 166-yard, par-3 17th and 444-yard, par-4 18th holes at Sherwood Country Club
WHEN: Final round of the Chevron World Challenge
When Woods lost his game over the last couple of years, his ballstriking was poor, but it was putting that really hurt him. He never made putts, especially when he needed them. Now he's killing people on the greens, as he did the last day at the Presidents Cup in his singles match against Aaron Baddeley and in the final round at the Chevron. Woods was one shot behind Zach Johnson with two holes to play at the Chevron, so he needed birdies, and he made them with clutch putts at 17 and 18.
At the Chevron, Woods experimented with different putting grips. His goal was to try to feel the putter-head releasing through impact. Releasing the putter-head with an arcing stroke has gained popularity in recent years; a straight back and straight through stroke used to be the dominant style on the greens. Both styles are good. You should experiment to determine which method works best with your putting stroke rather than adapting your basic stroke to a certain style.
The best way to try the two methods is to use props. Get a two-by-four for straight-back and straight-through, and find any of the myriad putting arcs for the curved (or arcing) stroke. Lay the two-by-four on a green. Hit putts with the heel of the putter gliding straight back and through so the heel remains flush to the two-by-four. With a putting arc, the heel should remain flush to the edge of the arc. Because the arc is slightly curved, the putter-head will open slightly in the backstroke, square up at impact and then close in the follow-through.
Whichever stroke makes the ball roll better off the face is the stroke that's best for you.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Tom Patri runs the TP Golf Academy in Naples, Fla.