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Tiger's putter provides the talking point

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Iain Carter | 12:33 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

They were taking their seats well ahead of the announcement that Tiger was in the house. They were to be disappointed - unless they were interested in the contents of his golf bag for this Open.

Anyone who thought that Tiger Woods would open up about his private life in his first audience with the British press since his dramatic downfall was seriously misguided.

We witnessed another skilful performance from Woods. We always do at St Andrews. Usually it is when he is letting his clubs do the talking. This time it was when he was having to provide the chat.

And at his pre-Championship news conference it was no surprise to witness his tactics at shutting down any line of questioning that referenced his changed circumstances. But for once he did use the occasion to be somewhat revelatory.

It wasn't of interest to those penning stories for the front pages but for golfing aficionados it was well worth hearing - indeed, an almost historic development.


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Woods will be using a new putter for this Open. For the first time since 1999 and after winning him 13 majors, his previously trusty wand has been benched.

One reporter said to him that it must be like "kicking a member of the family out". Ouch - not the best turn of phrase as rumours sweep St Andrews that his divorce with Elin has been finalised.

Regardless, the golfing implications of Woods's change to a harder faced putter are fascinating. He says it is all down to the pedestrian pace of the St Andrews greens.

"I've always struggled on slower greens. I've always putted well on faster greens. This putter does come off faster with the new groove technology. It gets it rolling faster," Woods explained.

Let's face it, since his return to action, his putting has not been the traditional strength it once was. In fact, it was on the wane prior to his driving difficulties outside his house last November.

woodswilliamsgetty595x335.jpg Caddie Steve Williams hands Woods his new putter during Tuesday's practice. Photo: Getty

He always said that by not changing putter he gave himself an advantage over the rest of the field, who are more prone to chopping and changing. But now he has joined that brigade as he seeks his fourth Open title and third at the home of golf.

There are also commercial implications. If the move is a success, the manufacturers who famously stood by him while the rest of his sponsors fled will be richly rewarded.

This, though, seems to be a purely golfing move as he seeks to build on the fourth-place finishes Woods has recorded in the first two majors of the year.

This news conference was always going to be a test. In America, the media has tired of the personal questions because they know they won't yield any answers.

Woods seemed nervous throughout because he knew this was the British media's chance to put him under scrutiny.

He knew what would be coming, he had practised and he parried with aplomb as his manager and publicist stood like worried cornermen. Mark Steinberg chewed his gum anxiously, Glen Greenspan's brow seemed to have become prone to a permanent furrow.

Impending divorce, how important is his public image to him, past tantrums on the course - they were all thrown at him but failed to land a meaningful blow.

As he finished with his traditional "you got it guys", you knew he was relieved to have the most uncomfortable 20 minutes of Open week out of the way.

What had we got? As expected, not very much was forthcoming other than the golf.

And at least he provided a decent line on that with his putter revelation. The talking is now over and the week is all about how well that new implement works.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Ian, are the greens really that slow?

    Any word on how much practice he has had with the new putter? Is it another blade or has he joined the ugly mallet-using hordes?

  • Comment number 2.

    While he deserves much criticism, the morality of the situation is not my concern. It is nice, however, to see someone, for the most part, able to put an invasive media in its place. It may be arrogant of him to sit there stonewalling and icily staring down the scurrilous hacks in the press tent but it's actually good to see that instead of a tearful confessional on Oprah or something.

    I'm sure the wonderfully blonde Hazel Irvine wouldn't know what to do if he started opening up to her.....

    Hang on, blonde....Tiger almost single.....

  • Comment number 3.

    Any more details on his new putter??? Is it made by the same manufacturer as his old one or his main club sponsor???

  • Comment number 4.

    Why do stupid reporters keep asking TW about his private life, I am sure the majority of the public do not care - he is a golfer and here to play golf and we want to see him play golf.
    I wish these stupid reporters would start respecting peoples privacy and back off.

  • Comment number 5.

    New putter? What nonsense to lead a "sports" page with

    Competitive hobby I'm afraid - 59 yr old bloke nearly won it last year. That alone should ban golf from being called a sport

  • Comment number 6.

    Looks like Nike have finally got their way! I believe his putter is a "Nike Method". Not sure which model, probably a one off for Tiger? All he needs now is a few putts to drop early on to restore some confidence on the greens! If he can putt fairly well this week, the rest will be chasing his tail again!

  • Comment number 7.

    I would imagine that the greens have been left a bit longer than preferred leading up to the opening round due to the dry conditions over the last month . Weather permitting I am sure they will speed up nicely for the weekend and may even be a good bit quicker for Thursday.

    It always surprised me how often the pro's change the flatstick but Woods was always the same . It will be interesting to see how it goes as by most reports he is fairly good at the moment from tee to green

  • Comment number 8.

    A new putter!! What? This is insane! Wow Golf is so exciting.

  • Comment number 9.

    Tiger's old putter was a Scotty Comeron (Titleist) Newport. Tiger has not changed since 1999 and the Scotty putter has been like a magic wand for him. For Tiger to change his wand for the first time in 11 years at a major championship is fascinating. I appreciate why non golfers might not be enthralled by this but try putting your feet up for 4 days from Thursday and watch a variety of men be they young, old, athletic, overweight, rich poor, gifted or just tenacious from every corner of the world compete for the claret jug. Sport? - Beats the world cup any day!

  • Comment number 10.

    f1tevaldo

    And some of us think that F1 is the most boring sport in the world to watch.

    The #1 golfer changing the most important part of his equipment is big-ish news to those who follow golf. If you ignorantly want to claim you don't care about it/him/or golf then why bother posting on here? I couldn't give two hoots about F1 and what wing people have used but do you find me going on your blogs and ranting in a 10 year olds voice "ooo i don't care blah blah".

    Grow up please

    But anyway

    I've never got chopping and changing either, i've used my Odyssey now for about the last 7 years, before that it was the old Scotty (gun metal with insert) and before that the original Odyssey (all Newport shaped).

    Found it took a fair while to adjust and so never got how/why guys would chop from mallets to blades and back n' forth etc.

    Surprised the greens are so slow up there... If they're slow then they've obviously had some dodgy weather - You shed any light on how bad the long stuff is Iain?

  • Comment number 11.

    Re the speed of the greens, they were very lush looking on Monday. And holding pitches.

    The rough is the usual pussycat stuff ever since the Americans cried like babies at Carnoustie in '99 - wispy tops and very hard to lose a ball in unless you are miles off line.

  • Comment number 12.

    re the greens they are having to keep them longer because of the wind up in Fife at the moment if the wind reaches the heights of Monday on Thursday the course would be deemed unplayable.

    Think Tigers just moving with the times new putters really are that much better at getting the ball rolling now changed to a ghost about 6 weeks ago and its very good.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ Jim, 'cried like babies' good one. Still, with TW searching for his best form, this kind of radical surgery is probably what he needed.

  • Comment number 14.

    The press really are frightened of him. I just wish they would ask him the obvious questions, are you willing to take a test for human growth hormone? How many of your present entourage were complicit in covering up your previous acknowledged "lifestyle"? Has anything really changed??

  • Comment number 15.

    @10 I watch and play golf. I also watch F1 and Football. Recent F1 headlines include Webber survives 190mph horror smash. Oh and the World Cups been on. Then we get headlines, yes headlines about his putter?? Boring doesn't even come into it. I'm sick and tired of hearing all day long whenever I read/watch golf. TIGER TIGER TIGER TIGER TIGER TIGER, WOODS WOODS, WOODS, WOODS, WOODS, WOODS, WOODS, WOODS. I don't care that hes changed his putter or slept with a million woman. TELL US ABOUT THE OTHER MUCH MORE EXCITING GOLFERS!. Imagine F1 being like this 'BUTTON BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON, JENSON, JENSON, JENSON. And there are only 20 odd drivers in F1. Sick to death of the one man show that golf is. When he retires golf will realise that they've shot themselves in the foot... and head. Forget the Tiger obsession its ridiculous. From a truly fed up Golf AND F1 fan.

  • Comment number 16.

    When I read the headline 'Tiger Woods selects new putter', I mistakenly assumed it was an article about his newest lady friend.

  • Comment number 17.

    I would have to agree with #15 to some extent. Tiger Woods dominates the headlines when there are much more interesting golf stories about other golfers. Even the article on Justin Rose is based upon him sharing a tee time with Woods.

    That said, the change in putter issue is actually of technical interest and gives us some insight into how St. Andrews this year provides a different challenge to other courses. I think Iain's blogs are of significantly higher quality that the bland drivel spewed out by the bloggers on the world cup.

    Can't wait for the real action to begin.

  • Comment number 18.

    Didn't bother to read the blog....."Carter on Tiger" has been flogged to death.

    This Open has so many, more interesting story lines.

  • Comment number 19.

    They'll probably not cut the greens down because it's meant to be windy over the course of the championship. I was at St Andrews a couple of weeks ago and the course looks fantatsic. The new 17th tee could cause problems though - 250 yard carry into the wind to get over the railway sheds could make it interesting!

  • Comment number 20.

    What on earth is wrong with the media, and in this case the BBC reporter. Tiger Woods is at St.Andrews to play golf and most of us are just waiting to see him and all the others play. We know all about his background; it's been publicised well but now it is GOLF so what on eart was the BBC reporter doing going round asking the public what they thought and then putting his findings to T/W. How insensative can you get. The Open is all about golf so get that guy out of there before he drives us all up the wall.
    Herbie Chappell

  • Comment number 21.

    #5 wrote: " New putter? What nonsense to lead a "sports" page with

    Competitive hobby I'm afraid - 59 yr old bloke nearly won it last year. That alone should ban golf from being called a sport."

    What utter tosh. That 59 year old happened to have won several Majors including the Open at the same course he nearly won it last year.

    If you don't like a sport, don't comment on a blog aimed at its supporters. Simple.

  • Comment number 22.

    #15 I think the reason why TW gets all the publicity is because he has been number one for as long as I can remember. Totally trashed everyone and has 13 major titles plus an obscene number of PGA titles, and he is only in his mid 30's. So stop hating! and celebrate the fact that you are able to witness greatness. Unlike MJ, he will keep ramming down his ability down you haters until you all realise that he is the best and there are no challengers, just pretenders like PM.

  • Comment number 23.

    @22 Yes but there are limits. The drivers in f1 are all talked about across the board rather than just Schumacher, Schumacher, Schumacher etc. (A 7 time world champion) So whilst he has been great it is a one man sport. What if Woods has a tragic accident tomorrow then golf has absolutely destroyed itself.

  • Comment number 24.

    Unlike F1, golf is a one man game, no special diffuser or suspension to give you an advantage just raw talent. The best driver doesn't necessarily win the driver's championship, otherwise Lewis Hamilton would have won the last three years. TW is currently playing under immense pressure but yet still he strides on with a smile on his face and a sense of purpose. I for one is grateful that he plays on because he brings about the excitment of something special. Love him or hate, lets enjoy the game and the special plays he brings to us all on the back nine on a Sunday afternoon.

  • Comment number 25.

    Heres a thought? Tiger to miss the cut! Saw him hit some balls yesterday. Sorry he's playing poorly. Now switching putter? Smacks of desperation to me.

    Watch out for Mc Ilroy! Been at home smashing balls around in the wind at Portrush and RCD! Think he'll go well here.

  • Comment number 26.

    Tiger,(actually Eldrick,but for some reason his Dad insisted on Tiger),is probably the best golfer ever, but a very screwed up person. This only matters because for years he has been used by corporate America as an icon for clean living and for product placement.It is not an exaggeration to say that the USPGA rely on Tiger-as do all of the pros-for their financial well-being.What is more he has shown "country club" America that you don't have to be white to play golf,but sadly his private behavior has simply reinforced their prejudice.
    As for changing putters, pros are paid to change equipment.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tiger photographed changing putter DURING the round, AND the whole of the golfing world (quite aptly) talks about it ! The cynic in me asks, in 13 yrs of using his previous model, how many did the manufacturer (Titleist) sell ? A great stunt again, the stuff of Sir Richard Branson.

  • Comment number 28.

    Honstly guys! Feel free to express an opinion, but no need to slate other people's interests along with it. Some people are interested in Tiger's putter, some people are interested in Webber's front wing (or lack of it). Different people are interested in..... different things! What a shocker.

    I find horse racing massively dull but to date I have not felt the need to go on to a horse racing blog and say so.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tiger's new putter is the Nike Method 001. He isn't contracted to use a Nike putter and is simply using the putter that he thinks will give him the best chance to win a 4th British Open and 15th major. The Method 001 is a classic blade that is similar to Tiger's existing Scotty but slightly heavier. It's the exact same putter used by Cink and Glover to win last year's British & US Opens respectively. Tiger's putting has been very poor by his standards in the few events he's played this year and his stats will need to improve significantly if he is to win three in a row at St Andrews. If his putting clicks, he's still the man to beat but adverse weather could make the tournament a lottery and increase the chance that we see a surprise winner.

  • Comment number 30.

    Tiger is like a politician, everything he says is rehearsed and for the benifit of his brand. The only honest statement you will get from him is when it is financially expedient to do so.

  • Comment number 31.

    To Mr Carter

    I like so many sports find it increasingly disappointing that journalists think we are interested in the private lifes of sporting personalities.

    It is a shame that you have managed to waste your time with this issue rather than giving us an article on the potential winner of this great event.

    Shame on you.

  • Comment number 32.

    We've come a long way from Sam Snead using cut down swamp maple branches to drive and putt with.... Tiger Woods change of putter has deflected questions about his private life AND will benefit Nike, his main sponsor. They'll make thousands of dollars from sales of his new putter.... Am I being cynical ??

  • Comment number 33.

    Iain,
    I don't understand why the media allow Tiger to get away with blaming his putting when his iron play is clearly his problem.
    He's currently 125th on Tour in greens in regulation, 45th in putting per gir, 96th in putts per round.
    Unless your name is Seve, you're not going to miss so many greens and get up and down every time. And he's no Seve.
    Fact is, Woods' "greens hit" with short irons is among the PGA Tour's worst:
    From less than 75 yards: 172nd
    From 76 - 100 yds: 186th
    From 101 -125 yds: 187th
    "Scrambling": 167th
    Until you address that, you're giving him a free pass on his golf swing.
    If Woods corrects these flaws he could well win this week. If he ignores them and continues as he has, he'll be lucky to make the cut.

  • Comment number 34.

    where did those figures come from kwini!? because they are certainly not correct, and i'd rate tiger about up there with seve in the short game/ scrambling area. Point is Tiger is the greatest golfer to grace the game, he changed the way other pro's went about their business and this was back in 2001/02, to sustain his achievements throughout the past decade or so is truly tremendous when the whole game was going through this transitional stage, and the one club that he kept throughout the making of his legacy is to be changed, that is news in the golfing world. if you putt bad, work on it, if its still bad, work on it some more, and if all else fails try a different one, especially if it is more suited to the greens you are playing on! simple enough, plus nike will be pleased but with all that money do you think he would it change for that reason? nah

    drive for show, putt for dough

  • Comment number 35.

    Mashy,
    Tiger's stats came direct from pgatour.com.
    I can certainly agree that Tiger's short game was wonderful, best (with early Olazabal) since Seve no doubt.
    I'm just saying that, this year, it's been below average and, having watched most of his rounds, albeit on TV, I can well believe it. Even he has said that he's had difficulty with the "conforming grooves" on his wedges which we were originally led to believe he had switched over to last year.

  • Comment number 36.

    Mashy, Iain,
    What is also not mentioned is that Tiger is putting a new ball in play, probably the Nike One Tour which he tried in competition for the first time at Aronomink. He especially favours using it for Open Championship conditions which, GolfWorld reports, demand less spin.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mashy, He's an unbelievable golfer, but to say he's the greatest golfer of all time is stretching it a bit. He's certainly the best golfer of this generation, but you can't look past Hogan in his time or Nicklaus and Palmer in theirs. You say he changed the way golfers went about their game - I would say Faldo actually was the first guy to really work at the physical side and see it as being key to success.

  • Comment number 38.

    Tiger is the best golfer ever and there is more chance of Osama Bin Laden suddenly turning up at the white house for tea than Tiger not winning more majors. 5 majors to go. If anyone can Tiger can.

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh! how I agree with 15 and the BBC coverage this morning is more of the same. I'm also fed up already with the 'diversions' from the golf - some bloke with a clipboard going around the place and Hazel Irvine. The golf on Sky is always irritating due to the feed from the US channels and their incessant adverts but this is the BBC coverage and I want to see the golf not inane chatter!!

  • Comment number 40.

    roger @ 22

    "Totally trashed everyone and has 13 major titles plus an obscene number of PGA titles"

    14.

 

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