Tuesday Notebook: New putting strategy is to keep your eye on cup

By Tim Dahlberg
Published on
Tuesday Notebook: New putting strategy is to keep your eye on cup

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) – Jordan Spieth drew some attention during his Masters victory for the way he hit some of his shorter putts – he looked at the hole instead of the ball.
Who knows, the trend may be catching on.
Louis Oosthuizen said he used the technique several times at the U.S. Open, where he rallied with a final nine of 29 at Chambers Bay that left him just one shot short of a playoff with Spieth.
"I did it a lot coming into the last nine holes on Sunday and it worked," Oosthuizen said. "On a clutch putt which I felt I needed to make, I freed my stroke a bit by doing that."
Tiger Woods played with Oosthuizen the first two rounds of the Open and noticed.
"I've played a lot of golf with Louis, but I've never seen him look at the hole before," Woods said. "He was looking at the hole when he was hitting putts, and they were going in from all different distances. I've never seen that before, but it obviously worked."
Woods has his own issues with putting in the Greenbrier Classic, but didn't start looking at the hole. Instead, he re-gripped his putter, making the grip slightly larger.
"I've used that grip for probably maybe a year and a half or so, so you can see my indentations of my fingers in there," he said. "That's probably a sign when it's time to change it."
BUBBA'S CHANCES: Listen to Bubba Watson talk, and you might think he doesn't stand a chance at St. Andrews.
The two-time Masters winner says the combination of wind and rain predicted for this week will make it difficult for his game.
"The ball bounces around a lot, rolls a lot," he said. "The way I like to move it in heavy winds is pretty difficult. On paper it's probably not the best for me, with all the conditions you add to it. I don't really play good in the rain because I move the ball so much. Lucky for me that we don't play every course like this."
Watson, who missed the cut when the Open was last held at St. Andrews in 2010, said he sometimes wishes he didn't move the ball so much sideways when it comes to playing courses like this.
"I want to be like the greats of the game, hit the ball dead straight," he said. "I just can't do it. I've never tried to do it and I don't want to change my game. I'm getting to play the Open championship, so my moving the ball is doing OK. The winds can get up pretty high here, so I've just got to figure out how to hit it a little bit straighter."
Despite his troubles in the wind, Watson says he enjoys links play.
"I love this kind of golf. It's a challenge," he said. "It comes down to making putts. I haven't putted really well in the wind. If it's me wanting the putts to go in too much or if it's the wind or if it's just I'm not used to it, just one of those things."
WEATHER WATCH: The forecast calls for rain and strong winds, beginning later in the day Thursday. Winds will shift Friday, with gusts of up to 40 mph and will be strong again Saturday before subsiding somewhat on the final day.
Tiger Woods, a notorious weather watcher, is already planning his strategy on a course that can change every time the wind blows in a different direction.
"It's about understanding how to play the golf course under various winds," Woods said. "You can see the golf course on a simulator and it's fantastic. But playing in the different winds and having to hit the different shots, shaping shots completely differently from one day to the next on the same hole, it does help seeing the golf course under different winds."
Woods is playing his fifth Open at St. Andrews and has seen the wind from every direction.
"I think that's where experience comes into play," he said. "You have to hit the ball well. You have to really lag-putt well here. But if you haven't seen the golf course in various winds, bunkers that you don't even see on the yardage book all of a sudden become apparent."
CULINARY DELIGHT: Jordan Spieth is getting into the Scottish way of life during his week in St. Andrews. He says he has tried haggis – the national dish where a cooked sheep's offal (liver, heart and lungs) is rolled in oats and pepper, then stuffed into beef intestine to create a kind of sausage.
"I have had it. I didn't mind it," Spieth said at an Under Armour event Tuesday.
Spieth won't be making it his pre-round meal this week, though. He will stick to his usual omelet before teeing off.
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