Read Tiger’s Putts!

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Read Tiger's Putts! Armed with sophisticated lasers, artificial-intelligence software and a physics engine that would make Einstein blush, AimPoint Technolgies' Mark Sweeney knows how every putt is going to break on the 18th green at Torrey Pines. Now you can, too. By David DeNunzio Green-reading has never been a science. It's more like a stew — chuck the recipe, throw in some bits and see what you get. But ever since Mark Sweeney was allowed into the kitchen, that stew has become the most technologically advanced product in golf. His AimPoint technology (the one you've seen tracking putts on Golf Channel telecasts) can draw the perfect line for any putt on any green that has been lasered and analyzed by him and his team of engineers. It itself is a stew — a computer-controlled pot full of 3D models, friction coefficients and physics calculators — and Mark has cooked one up on Torrey Pines' undulating 18th green. Check the data and you'll know — just like Mark does — when Tiger and Co. are gonna miss long before they do.
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Common Knowledge: The 18th at Torrey Pines is 95 ft. wide by 75 ft. deep. Two bisecting ridges create a bowl in each corner of the green — that's where they set the pins. The Sunday pin for the last five Buick Invitationals has been in the front-left bowl, which is fronted by a lake to catch short approaches. At the Open, this is Saturday's target. Local Knowledge: Since 2004, 25 percent of all Buick contestants have gone for the green in two. About 1 in 4 of these golfers are successful (38% of all scores during this year's Buick were either birdies or eagles), and most favor the right side even when the pin is cut on the left. This landing area takes the water out of play.
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Common Knowledge: The preferred landing area when going for the green in two is right of the north-south ridge. From here, golfers face about a 45-foot double-breaking putt that bends 14 feet right-to-left to the Sunday pin. Local Knowledge: Most players tend to over-read the break from the preferred eagle landing area, and start the putt too high on the ridge, leaving a tricky downhill putt for birdie. Few players will leave themselves an uphill birdie putt.
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Common Knowledge: The simplest eagle putt to read from the right side of the green is from the base of the north-south ridge at the far end of the putting surface. Although it's about 60 feet and it breaks both ways, all you have to do is aim straight at the hole and the putt will drop. Local Knowledge: When players place their second shot on the low end of the preferred eagle landing area, they only have to deal with about 5 feet of break.
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Common Knowledge: When players get greedy and go for the left side of the green on their second shot, they almost always end up long (a natural response to avoiding the water hazard). Local Knowledge: This area is the Death Zone when the pin is cut front left — the putt breaks over 40 feet to the right across the ridge. No one ever plays enough break — ever.
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Common Knowledge: After laying up, the best spot to land an approach when the pin is cut front left is about 30 feet beyond the flag. When you see a wedge shot hit here, watch how much it will spin and trickle back to the hole. Local Knowledge: For those that lay up, it's tempting to hit a wedge short of the Sunday pin, leaving an uphill putt. But watch how many of these wedges come up a little short and spin back into the water (this nearly happened to Tiger at the 2005 Buick). Smart players will err on the long side.
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Common Knowledge: When players come up short when going for the green in two and the pin is cut front left, they're left with a very nasty pitch. Players must land the ball on the ridge and way right of the hole, and then let it roll downhill to the cup. Pitches that come up short of the ridge stay on the right side of the green. Local Knowledge: You'll see the most birdie attempts to the front-left pin from about 20 feet above the hole. From the golfer's perspective, the putt looks straight, but a small mound near the cup creates a 1.5-foot left-to-right break. You'll see a lot of misses on the right side of the hole because everyone thinks the green in the front-left bowl slopes toward the water when it actually slopes toward the front left corner. It's an important piece of information that affects any putt attempted within the front left bowl. Mark Sweeney is the founder of AimPoint Technologies (www.aimpointgolf.com) and invented the AimPoint virtual putting line seen on the Golf Channel.