WGC-CA Championship round one: Tiger said it - his putting's plain pathetic
Oh dear, Tiger Woods is using the ‘P’ word again. Last week it was his whole game that was “pathetic". This time he identified putting as the root of his problem. It was clearly the same for other Doral old hands who, playing a lot from memory, were thrown by new greens. Tiger for one found several holes playing completely opposite to the way he remembered.
But his driving wasn’t up to a whole lot either, leaving him well down the pecking order of a discipline he generally leads. At least as he spent Thursday evening in a heavy session on the putting green he could reflect on the fact that he wasn’t all-round pathetic this time: his sizzling iron play leads the pack. And therein lies a warning to the current leadership.
Tiger is just four strokes off the lead on a day when the top guys traditionally stall. What will be really pathetic is if he fails to take advantage of that possibility.
Talking of pathetic, though, what about Phil Mickelson, whose five over round included two double bogeys? One of those following him said it was “bizarre” how badly he was missing it off the tee. Obviously a huge work in progress ahead of his Masters defence.
But Thursday’s booby prize must surely go to Adam Scott for his quintuple bogey on the tenth. But for that and a double bogey on the 18th he’d have had quite a tasty round!
Performances of the day in the tricky windy conditions were obviously Henrik Stenson and Robert Allenby. Interesting that the top six in the leaderboard have either no or very little experience of Doral and, particularly, its altered greens. But Stenson’s performance was about much more than putting, in which he ranked third. He was also fifth for greens in regulation and tenth for distance off the tee.
What has got slightly lost, though, is the menacing performance of Charles Howell III and an even better effort by Ernie Els, who would undoubtedly be leading but for his wayward putting, worse than his seasonal average (he’s an old hand here too). He’s the most accurate in the field off the tee, matches Tiger for best iron play, and is sixth for distance. Those Callaways sure look to be doing the business.
But wouldn’t you know it, on a day when putting is the undoing of many a top player Sergio Garcia comes up trumps with the flat stick. I like to think he read my piece yesterday and took it to heart. Hey, a man can dream can’t he?
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