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Steady routine key to Tiger Woods putting

One reason Tiger Woods makes so many clutch putts is a routine that never changes.

After he made one of the most pressure-packed putts of his career, a 15-footer in the dark that wound up salvaging a tie at the Presidents Cup in South Africa, his father spoke of the process Woods follows.

"When he gets over the ball and starts his procedure, watch him after he sets his putter,'' Earl Woods said in a November 2003 interview. "He checks his alignment. He adjusts his feet. He takes one look, another look and then strokes the ball.''

The routine is the same whether it's a 10-foot par putt in the second round of the Memorial or a 6-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship to force a playoff.

He doesn't make them all, which is why he missed the cut at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship to end his record streak at 142 consecutive tournaments in the money. But he has made more big putts than any player of his generation.

On the eve of the Nelson, Woods smiled and nodded when told of his father's comments.

"Sometimes when I really got locked into what I'm doing, you can put a stopwatch on it,'' Woods said.

That sounded like a good idea.

So, during his second round at Cottonwood Valley, Woods' putting routine was timed on three straight holes -- No. 4, 5 and 7. The clock started after he got over the ball and set his putter on the green.

He takes two quick practice strokes without stopping the putter. He steps to the ball and takes his first look at the hole. Then he adjusts his feet and takes a second look. Then he takes a third look and pulls the trigger.

On a 6-foot par putt at No. 4, the routine took 18.1 seconds (made it).

On a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 6, it took 18.0 seconds (made it).

On an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 7, the process took 18.2 seconds (missed it).

Earls Woods said one other thing about his son's routine with the putter.

"It requires trust in your ability and no hesitation,'' he said. "And it requires the ability to accept the results.''

Woods was put on the clock one other time last Friday, on the 18th hole over his 15-foot par putt to extend his record. The putt just missed to the right.

The process took 19.3 seconds.


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