After 12 years, Woods ponders putter switch
Woods said Tuesday he will use a Nike Method putter at the British Open when he tries to become the first player to win the claret jug three times at St. Andrews.
In an era when some players switch putters during a tournament—Jesper Parnevik once carried two putters during a round—Woods has not changed the most important club in the bag since the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic. Over the next 12 years, he won 72 times around the world, including 13 majors.
He did bring his Scotty Cameron putter made by Titleist—a Newport 2 model—with him to St. Andrews. But as he made his way through a practice round, he said, “I think I’m going to stick with this one.”
It will be the first time that all 14 clubs in his bag were made by Nike.
Woods attributed the change to the greens, which are slower than usual on links courses, especially this week at St. Andrews on what has been a relatively green course because of rain leading up to the championship.
“It’s one of those things where I’ve always struggled on slower greens,” Woods said. “I’ve always putted well on faster greens. This putter does come off faster with the new groove technology. It rolls the ball better, and rolls it faster. So these greens, I’ve had to make very little adjustment in how hard I’m hitting it compared to if I had my older putter.”
The Old Course was so firm when he won with a record 19-under 269 in 2000 that the fairways were faster than the greens. The greens were also faster in 2005, when Woods won by five shots.
Woods is coming off one of his worst putting performances two weeks ago at Aronimink, where he tied for 46th in the AT&T National.
The putter is the second equipment change in as many tournaments. Woods also decided at Aronimink to play a different Nike ball with a slightly harder cover, giving him more distance and reducing the spin. He has the same ball in play at St. Andrews.
Even so, it was the putter that made news because of how long he has had it.
Woods signed with Titleist when he turned pro in 1996. He switched to the Nike ball in 2000, to the driver in 2002 and the irons that fall before the Ryder Cup. The wedges and 3-wood eventually had the Nike swoosh, but not the putter.
It was not clear whether he would switch back to his old putter when he played faster greens later this summer.
Woods previously had used a Ping Anser 2 that once belonged to Mark O’Meara, who finished one shot ahead of Woods at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale. O’Meara later joked with him, “Why do you think it was my backup?”
Woods has been tempted to change putters before, mainly on slower greens.
“My stroke has always been, even from when I was a junior golfer ... I always feel more comfortable when the greens get quick,” said Woods, who has won four times each at Augusta National and Muirfield Village. “Some of my best putting rounds were when the greens were running at 14 or something like that on the stimp like at Memorial. I feel so comfortable on those type of greens. But on slower greens, I’ve always had a hard time.
“I’ve always experimented with other putters throughout the years, but I’ve never put one in play until now.”