Tiger Woods’ putter swap appears to pay off, especially from mid-range

Aug 4, 2018; Akron, OH, USA; A view of the Nike golf shoes worn by Tiger Woods as he putts on the sixth green during the third round of the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods’ putter swap appears to pay off, especially from mid-range

By The Numbers

Tiger Woods’ putter swap appears to pay off, especially from mid-range

Tiger Woods raised eyebrows six weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National when he started using a new putter, a TaylorMade TP Collection Ardmore 3, and benched the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 he had used to win 13 of his 14 majors.

Woods had switched to a Nike Method putter for a few years when the company still made equipment, but even after he signed an equipment deal with TaylorMade and a ball deal with Bridgestone, almost everyone thought the Cameron putter had regained a permanent spot in his bag.

Woods finished seventh at the Quicken Loans National in strokes gained putting with a 4.775-stroke edge over the field average for the week. That works out to an average of 1.193 per round. Heading into that tournament, Woods’ season-long strokes gained putting average had been 0.108, which ranked 89th on the PGA Tour, so the new putter seemed to help the former World No. 1.

While the R&A does not provide strokes gained information for the British Open, ShotLink and strokes gained data is available for 12 rounds in which Woods used his TaylorMade putter. Here’s what the numbers reveal from the small sample size.

Woods is putting a lot better

Woods used his Scotty Cameron putter in every event this season before the Quicken Loans National, and as previously noted his strokes gained putting average was 0.108. The graph below shows his strokes gained putting in each event this season.

As can be seen, Woods putted well with his Ardmore in each of the three events he has played for which ShotLink stats were gathered. Woods’ combined strokes gained putting in those tournaments was 12.605, which means his average per round was 1.05. For reference, a season-long average of 1.05 would rank No. 1 on the PGA Tour, ahead of Jason Day (0.976) and Phil Mickelson (0.853).

Woods is one-putting, and three-putting, more

Before his putter switch, Woods’ one-putt percentage was 39.51, meaning he needed just one putt on that percentage of all greens. In his last three starts with the TaylorMade putter, he has improved to 47.22 percent. That’s great, but his three-putt avoidance is worse, rising from 3.09 percent to 5.55 percent. Woods had four three-putts in his last three ShotLink-enabled events, with three coming last week at the PGA Championship.

From inside 10 feet, Woods hasn’t changed much

Woods made 87.48 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet with his Scotty Cameron putter this year, and with the TaylorMade putter he made 86.63 percent (188 of 217).

From beyond 10 feet, Woods is making more putts. A lot more.

This is the area where Woods has most improved since switching putters. With the Scotty Cameron putter, he made 15.87 percent of all the putts he attempted this year from beyond 10 feet (47 of 296), but with the TaylorMade putter he made 23 percent (26 of 113), including 43 percent from 10 to 15 feet and 44 percent from 15 to 20 feet. It’s a hot streak over a relatively short time, but it’s still impressive.

The sample size is small, but the numbers so far indicate Woods’ putter switch has been a good move. If he continues to make mid-range putts and can avoid three putts, the TaylorMade Ardmore 3 could be in for a long ride in his bag.

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