Tiger “Experimenting” With Flagstick-In Putting, Drops

For Tiger Woods, seeing his fellow peers on the PGA Tour struggle with the updated Rules of Golf over the first few weeks of 2019 has made him take matters into his own hands — like it or not — in the run-up to his first competitive round of the year at Torrey Pines on Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open.

“I’ve done one knee-high drop at home,” Woods said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I hit the ball in the hazard on 18 at Medalist and did it and it felt really, really weird, but I understand that’s just the way it’s going to be.

“I’ve seen a couple guys do it so far early this year as I watched some golf and they’ve had to re-drop. Hopefully, I won’t be one of those guys that does it. Hopefully, I won’t have to do it, period.”

While the knee-high drop is a mandate, the option to keep the flagstick in while putting on the green is a choice, albeit one with some pretty compelling evidence to support pros utilizing it. 

Tiger, never one to intentionally put himself at a disadvantage, admitted to having experimented with putting with the flagstick in. While it doesn’t sound like he will be doing it for every putt like a few have over the past three weeks, there are instances in which he’ll keep the pin in.

“On some of the longer putts, I’ve liked having Joey (LaCava) there as a reference point, so the flag will be there and he’ll obviously have to take it out,” Woods said. “Some of the putts where the hole is kind of visible, you know, as it comes up over a rise, I can see it but it would be nice to have a reference point. So I’ll probably leave it in for those kind of putts.

“I’ve been experimenting, trying to hit putts downhill at home to see how that feels. I didn’t find that I hit better putts. It just felt like I could hit it more aggressively, which I did, then I started running it 8-9 feet by. 

“I understand how some of the guys are doing it. “It might be more advantageous when we get on faster greens, a little bit more slope, i.e., Augusta, to have that sense of security on a 3 or 4-footer down the hill; you can just take a cut at it.”

When Tiger gets his 2019 campaign underway on the more difficult South Course at Torrey Pines at 1:40 p.m. ET on Thursday alongside Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau, he’ll be doing so with some new equipment in the bag, 

Woods updated to the new M5 driver and 3-wood, a step up from the M3 he used at the Tour Championship. He also has different irons in the bag; last year he was gaming the TaylorMade TW-Phase 1 irons and this week he’s made the switch to the TaylorMade P7TW irons that were most recently seen in Tommy Fleetwood’s bag in Abu Dhabi