Tuesday, July 21, 2015
A Walk in the Park
"Someone left the cake out in the rain". Lyrics from the song MacArthur Park - describe the loss of something special, due to neglect. On Sundays, when there is no major tournament - St Andrews is a public park. Jordan Spieth left the Cleric Jug out in the rain there this weekend - due to neglect.
You will hear that his 20 foot putt on 18 left him just inches short of a playoff. The truth is - he was 7 or 8 strokes better than every other player in the field. He threw them all away. Spieth had 6 - 3 putts over the weekend. Add to that - another 4 or 5 putts for par or birdie this week that he missed from inside 10 feet. That's 10 strokes - if he makes "half" of those - he finishes (-19), wins the British Open by 4 strokes and completes the 3rd leg of the Grand Slam.
Failure to Maintain
You can get a ticket for failing to maintain your vehicle - a broken tail light, side view mirror, etc. Jordan has failed to address and maintain one of the most important aspects of any players game - his short putting. Yes, Jordan is #1 from 20-25 feet and one of the best Mid and Long range putters on tour. But he is around 200th from 5 feet. Think about how insane that is! You make putts you should miss and then give them back missing the ones you should make easily.
Jason Dufner has the same problem - let examine why?
Fear of Frying
We've all been there. $40 bet, 4 foot put to beat your buddy. We cook it and it lips out or runs 5 feet by and a win turns into a loss. The next time we have a short pressure putt - we lean back off it - lift the putter face and push or pull it. This becomes a mental weakness in your game. The pros face the same problem - just with bigger stakes. I could write a whole article on why I think most pros have terrible putting techniques - but let's focus on a few basic facts.
1. Follow Through
You must follow through to insure a putt continues in the direction you hit it. Jordan and Dufner follow through on longer putts with great success. They do not follow through on short putts. Yes, the greens on the PGA are fast - but there is a solution - I'll get to that in a moment.
2. Lifting the Face
Will create less putter face contact with the ball and increase the likelihood of hitting it with more Toe (pulls left) or more Heel (pushes right). Jordan cocks his putter so far forward before he putts - he has no choice but to flip the putter face up as he putts.
This is dictated by the amount of back-swing you take in the putt. Two inches will travel less than a full backswing like you would take for a 60 foot lag putt.
is the speed your putter is traveling when it contacts the ball. Tempo is the key to Jordans and Jason's short putt problem
Always keep your Putter Face Low to the ground.
Look at the Ball and Follow Through on All Putts
Dramatically Reduce the Tempo on Short Putts
You can not train for pressure. So, you have to commit your putting stroke to muscle memory. How can you do that if you change your technique and look at the hole - only when the putt is inside 5 feet? The solution (above) is so simple and yet it still eludes Jordan's team and just cost him the British Open.
Low, Slow and Thru
Try this on your own and comment - you will see that it works
Why the Denial
Jordan refuses to acknowledge the problem. It was "proximity to the hole" or "pot bunkers" that cost him the Jug this week. It wasn't. He lag putted close enough to par or birdie most of the time.
So, why the denial? Fear I guess. He doesn't want to show weakness and admit he gets nervous on short ones. His fear of missing short putts caused him to resort to looking at the hole in the first place. That parlor trick works 50% of the time on puts he should make 90% of the time. (The Golf Channel Gurus now teach that moronic technique). He is young and invincible, he also has a short memory. Good qualities for an athlete. However, failure to address his short put problem has become an expensive choice. He lost The 2014 Masters by missing 2 putts from around 3 feet. He gave up 7 or 8 strokes at Memorial this year and lost by a just a few strokes. He missed half a dozen short putts at Chambers Bay and would have lost the US Open if DJ didn't choke. This week it cost him the British Open and the Grand Slam.
As I documented above - this short range putting problem has been going on for 2 years!. I believe Jordan has a great team behind him - but he is losing 4 or 5 strokes per tourney - this needed to be addressed a year ago. I like the idea of Cameron McCormick's hands off approach. However, what good is a coach if he does not address and rectify a problem this critical and costly? He is just 21 and still needs guidance from time to time. I hope he gets it.
I have called Jordan a prodigy. I think that is actually an insult. He is a great athlete with a work ethic he received from his parents. He has studied this game and worked his ass off to achieve a level of efficiency that is currently unparalleled. That is why it pisses me off to see him lose a tourney he should win by 5 or 6 strokes. He "is" that much better than most of the field. He proved that in Australia and at Hero.
The song Continues:
"I don't think that I can take it
Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again"
The Grand Slam does take a long time to bake, but I think Jordan will find the recipe again.
He has a long career ahead. I just hope he fixes his short putting woes soon. We are 5 years into watching Tiger deny and ignore the flaws in his game. I do not want to go through that with Spieth. Don't forget - I am still Jordans biggest fan.
Keep your eye on the ball Jordan!
- Rick Jansen