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Demise of Tiger Woods is tip of iceberg

By Karl MacGinty

As Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer play pass-the-parcel with the World No 1 spot, a revolution is taking place in golf.

A period of flux inevitably follows the end of every great dynasty and Tiger’s is no different only Woods won’t be the only big name to fall.

One wonders how many of those who prospered, almost pressure-free, in Tiger’s shadow down the years will still have the game (or the appetite) for a tooth and nail scrap with golf’s bloodthirsty young tyros in the war of succession.

From Angel Cabrera to Vijay Singh, almost all the multiple Major-winners of recent years have experienced problems with the putter, the club which truly has hastened Tiger’s demise.

None more so than Ernie Els, 41, who was so deep in the horrors last week at Hilton Head, he tried out an option in practice which a few years back he’d loudly derided as unacceptable — the belly putter.

Singh, 48, continues to wrestle with his putting demons and the weird grip he currently employs might have been recommended by an exorcist.

While Retief Goosen, 43, seems to have halted the decline of his putting powers, the South African is a shadow of the man acknowledged as the world’s hottest performer on fast surfaces following US Open victories at Southern Hills and Shinnecock.

In common with Woods, Els, Singh and Goosen, Phil Mickelson’s feeling pain where it hurts most. Mickelson misses too many short range putts. He ranks a lowly 155th on the US PGA Tour when it comes to holing-out from inside five feet.

Els is 183rd in that category, Singh is 141st and Goosen 98th.

Tiger’s putting has gone to pot at the tender age of 35. His Tour statistics are as startling as that three-putt bogey at 12 as he stalled badly on the back nine on the Sunday at The Masters.

Woods currently takes an average 1.794 putts per hole, leaving him a lowly 121st on Tour, while his 29.38 per round leave him in 124th.

Though he converts 96.71 per cent from inside five feet for a passable 51st place, Tiger’s success rate of 55.32 per cent from five to 10 feet, leaving him 102nd on Tour, represents a marked decline for a player who was once believed to be invincible.

In 2010 it might have been credible to associate Tiger’s demise with the fallout from his troubled personal life but his putting performance is worse this year than last.

Golf’s new era was exemplified by the manner of Charl Schwartzel’s win at The Masters and the thrilling cut-and-thrust of sudden death last Sunday at Harbour Town as Brandt Snedeker prevailed over Luke Donald on the third hole of sudden death at The Heritage.

So Westwood leapfrogged Kaymer to the top after his OneAsia Tour win in Jakarta.

Padraig Harrington slips to No 41, his poorest ranking since March 2000.

Belfast Telegraph


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