Webb Simpson was lost without his belly putter and the ability to anchor it against his beltline.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion fell out of the top-100 on the PGA Tour in putter when anchoring was outlawed at the start of the 2016 season. His last of his four PGA Tour victories had been in 2014 and his reputation as a solid ball-striker, able to work the ball both ways, was suffering due to a lack of balls finding the hole.
Okay. If he couldn't anchor, he'd just change his grip. And thanks to a combination of techniques used by a pair of past Players Championship winners, Simpson has regained his confidence on the greens that was never higher when he needed only 23 putts, worth more than 142 feet, in tying the Players course record on Friday with a 63.
Simpson began using a claw grip with his right hand on the eve of last year's Players and he tied for 16th after back-to-back seasons in which he missed the cut and tied for 66th.
He went to the claw on the advice in 2010 Players champion Tim Clark, who was trying different grips when he had to convert from an anchored stroke.
"Tim asked me how I've been putting, and I told him pretty inconsistent," Simpson said.
That was putting in kindly. Simpson went from 34th on the Tour's strokes gained putting index in 2014 to 177th in the first year of the anchoring ban.
In mid-season of 2016, he had already gone to the style used by 2012 Players champion Matt Kuchar of holding the club, anchoring the shaft against his right arm -- which was conforming, according to the USGA. His putting style incorporates both methods used by Kuchar and suggested by Clark.
"Call it the Kuchar-Claw ... or maybe the Kuchar-Clark," Simpson's caddie Paul Tesori said.
Simpson said he's indebted Clark, because he said using a claw grip had never entered his mind.
"He asked me had I ever tried the claw grip, and I said no," Simpson said. "So I tried it. I liked it. Thanks to Tim, I started putting better last year."
Simpson rose to 88th in strokes gained last year and was 10th entering The Players.
This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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