Putting on the brain
Defending champion Zach Johnson said, "It's all about putting, of course, but I'm confident that my putter has made a good turn here as of late."
British Open champion Padraig Harrington said he'd spent four hours on the practice putting green on Monday. Retief Goosen, who tied for second place at Augusta last year, said he'd recently gone back to the same putter he'd been using since 2001, the one he used to win two U.S. Opens. Tiger Woods is routinely praised as the greatest putter the game has ever seen. With the first major of the year, on its lighting-fast roller-coaster greens, comes a whole lot of anxiety about putting those slick surfaces. With that in mind, Ernie Els said he came to Augusta two weeks ago and didn't even play the course. Instead, he went out with a club caddie, some balls and a putter.
"I just went around and I took a local caddie, Dave is his name," Els said. "I'm not sure what his surname is. He really showed me--after 14 years coming here, you would think I know everything about Augusta--but he showed me exactly where the fall line is going. This is very much like a mountain course, it's going down to the creek there, Rae's Creek. But there's a certain spot down there which everything really wants to fall towards. So I've made a lot of notes this time around, so at least I've got a much better idea, more than any other years, where some of the putts are really going now."
Now if Els can just figure out his full swing, which is a work in progress under new coach Butch Harmon. (Photo: David J. Phillip/AP)