PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The early results of the budding partnership between Tiger Woods and putting instructor Matt Killen are promising.
Killen works with multiple PGA Tour pros, most notably Justin Thomas, and was asked by Woods this week to take a look at his putting stroke. Woods has been open about his recent struggles on the greens, as the poa annua surfaces on the West Coast and most recently at the WGC-Mexico Championship offered a stern challenge.
Back on Bermuda greens in his home state of Florida, Woods started rolling in some putts during the opening round of the Players Championship. The highlight was a 28-foot birdie on No. 13, but Woods also rolled in birdie putts of 13, 15 and 17 feet during a 2-under 70 that left him five shots off the early lead.
“Well, it wasn’t like I had to do a lot. I just got back into something that I do naturally,” Woods said. “I putt with the toe moving and toe releasing. My face moves a lot more than most players do. And we just went back to that.”
Woods had some issues tee-to-green during his opener at TPC Sawgrass, but he ranked 15th in strokes gained: putting despite missing a 4-foot par putt on his final hole. Instead of a weak spot, the putter proved to be an area of strength in his first competitive round since asking Killen to take a peek.
“I feel like I can go ahead and hit it with my right hand again,” Woods said. “That’s how I’ve always putted. I always had a lot of hit in my stroke, and that felt good again.”