Tiger's length no longer a headline after Buick Invitational win
Everyone is still amazed by Tiger’s length, but on Sunday at the Buick Invitational he proved once again that his length is not why he is the best player in the world. After he struggled through a mediocre round (for him) on an exceptionally difficult course, he came to the 18th at Torrey Pines needing a birdie to get into a playoff.
He had roughly 230 yards left to the hole, and he drew a bad lie in the fairway. Instead of attempting something miraculous, he hit a very conservative shot away from the flag hoping to leave himself a two-putt birdie. After he knocked his first putt 10 feet by, he hammered his birdie effort in the back of the hole to force a playoff. If Yijay Singh, Ernie Els, or Phil Mickelson were in the same situation, I would have bet against their chances of making the putt; as Tiger stood over his ball, I turned to everyone in the room and said, “He’s going to knock this right in the back of the hole. There will never be a doubt.” Of course, as he always does, Tiger made a pressure putt and added to his lengthy resume of wins.
As easy as it is to get caught up in the fact that he crushes the ball, his decision making and putting are what set him apart from everyone else, and it is these parts of his game that should be discussed more than his length. There are a lot of people in the world who hit the ball as far as he does (see Hank Kuehne and his total number of career wins), but there is not anyone who putts as well in pressure situations. In fact, there is not anyone who putts as well in ANY situations.
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The magic of the Tiger is he can put together a total game better than any one else. If his putter is off, he'll beat you with his irons, if his irons are off he'll beat you with his driver.
If all three are off, he'll walk up onto the green and turn your knees to jelly with his game face. (He jellied two sets of knees on Sunday when by his own admission his game was way off from where he wanted it to be.)
He finds the way to win. It has nothing to do with absolute superiority at any single phase of the game. It has everything to do with what you mention in your post...he will make the shot that he has to make, when he has to make it.
I too, knew he would drain the 9ft. + putt. I don't know how, I just knew. I can only equate it to Michael Jordan. You didn't know how he would win, just that he would. It always amazed us even though we knew it was inevitable.
How many PGA Tour events did Bob Heintz win last year? (Bob who? Just take a look at the 2005 Putting Average. Bob plays on the Nationwide Tour!)
Bob whatshisname may have been a consistently good putter in 2005, but how many eight-foot, 'gotta make it' putts did he hole last year on the final hole of a tournament to force a play-off? None. Yes, I've seen Tiger literally putt his ball off the green and into a nearby water hazard on more than one occasion, but believe it or not, I've never actually seen him lose a lead and straight THROW AWAY A TOURNAMENT. His putting always stands up under pressure. He's the greatest ever.
His short game is undeniably amazing.
Vijay and Wie can't putt.
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