CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – At least Tiger Woods found the humor in his putting struggles at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I’m on a hot streak, I made the last putt,” Woods said after making a 13-foot birdie putt on his last hole at Quail Hollow Club Friday to likely make the cut on the number.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 4, 2018
Perhaps the most impressive part of Woods’ return to competitive golf this year has been his work on the greens. He arrived at Quail Hollow ranked eighth in strokes gained putting, a statistical category he led the Tour in for a time.
But handling the relatively slow, overseeded Bermuda grass surfaces at Quail Hollow has mystified Woods. It would seem to be a relatively simple solution – hit it harder – but getting it from his head to his hands and ultimately to his stroke has been elusive.
“I’ve struggled with the greens being as slow as they are,” Woods said. “Today I tried to make sure I hit the putts harder and I kept pulling them. My feels just aren’t matching up with the speed of these greens.
“I’ve got to do some more work. I’ve had ample time to make the adjustment to hit the putts, hit them that much harder, and I’m just struggling hitting them that hard.”
Though he hasn’t played at Quail Hollow in six years, Woods said he remembers the greens being quicker than they are this week. While his ballstriking has been good enough to have him near the top of the leaderboard, his putting has smothered out any potential momentum. His -4.131 in strokes gained putting per round (a measure of how many strokes he is spotting the field on the greens) ranks near the bottom of the 156-player field.
In his first-round 71, Woods missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and a 4-foot par putt on the 16th hole, typifying his struggles.
It was no different in the second round. Hanging on the likely cut line through his final nine holes, Woods put himself on the wrong side of the line when he three-putted the sixth (his 15th hole) from 19 feet to fall 3-over par for the tournament.
When he failed to birdie the par-5 seventh and the short par-4 eighth, two of the easiest holes at Quail Hollow, Woods looked like he would miss the cut for the third time in seven starts here, the only regular PGA Tour event where he’s missed the cut twice. Instead, he birdied the difficult 505-yard par-4 ninth hole.
“I’ve hit it well enough to be right next to that lead, and if I can just putt – literally, if I just putt normal, I’m probably 5- or 6-under par,” Woods said.
“I’ve missed so many putts. Putts I missed yesterday, I was blocking them, trying to hit them the right pace. Today, I was pulling them, trying to hit them harder, try to put more hit in my stroke and release the toe of my putter and I just wasn’t doing it right today.”
How does Woods fix it?
“It’s called work,” Woods said before heading to the practice green.