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Rory's Putt(s): My Insight


Did Rory actually choke on Sunday? The answer might surprise you.

It was an incredible ending to the 124th United States Open and one that we won’t soon forget. Bryson DeChambeau played remarkable golf on Sunday - a round that highlighted by a heroic bunker shot and clutch putt on the final hole.


But with every story that has a hero has a villain. Or in this case, the dreaded runner up.


We’ll start with Rory’s putt on the 18th hole.


🚨 Spoiler alert 🚨

This isn’t the one that cost him the title.


We all saw a putt lip out on the low side at the most inopportune moment in his career to date. Here, you’ll read an objective assessment of The Putting Priorities and what might have needed to happen differently.


 

Speed


Anyone that has ever lipped out a putt has to wonder if they hit it too hard. In this case though, the ball’s capture speed, or how fast or slow the ball is rolling when it hits the cup, seems appropriate. He didn’t have a longer putt coming back than the first one either.


Verdict: Not the likely cause


 

Direction


Slightly lower on the face has always been a part of Rory's pattern. Image courtesy of NBC Sports.

For clarity, Direction on The Putting Tree primarily revolves around hitting the ball at the player’s intended target. This also encompasses the stroke itself and how we ended up with that face at impact.


After watching on replay for more times than I wish to count, the putt appears to start online. The face on worm’s eye view that appeared during coverage appeared as though the putt was hit thin or slightly off the bottom of the face. That has always been part of his pattern and I don’t think we can blame that for the miss.


Verdict: Not the likely cause

 

Read


That leaves us with target selection. This one is by far the most suspect of the bunch. When looking at the curvature of the putt, it just flat out snaps. You could argue that it might have hit something halfway to the cup, but US Open greens on Sunday do tend to be crusty and less than perfect after a full day’s worth of footprints. However, if you know your baseline reads on short putts on different green speeds, there’s no universe where this start line allowed for the speed he hit the putt and to be holed.


Also under this category, and those who have taken AimPoint with me know this, downhill putts break more. It’s very possible that he just underestimated how much the downhill component of this putt would change the total break required to maintain a moderate holing speed.


Verdict: The likely cause

 

Below the Flight Deck


The Top Gun fans out there will get the reference. For those that don’t, let’s just call it the deep dive.


Was it a combination of things that caused him to miss?


If you asked yourself this question, you’re starting to better understanding the components of read, speed, and how they interact with each other. Let’s cover two scenarios here.


Scenario 1: Little less break


It’s possible that Rory adjusted his read down and made an effort to add some speed to the putt. It’s not an extreme version of one of my least favorite phrases, take the break out, but it might have been enough to hurt him. He could have made this decision and just not hit the putt as hard as he intended with that adjustment.


It's a prime example of why I don't like changing my capture speed in particular scenarios, especially when it demands less break and more speed.


The real miss was 16. Less slope and closer, but still missed. Image courtesy of NBC Sports.

Scenario 2: Past events


Let’s flash back to the real putt that cost Rory the US Open this week. Remember 16? It was just over 2 feet and likely his worst stroke of the tournament. We saw the result of what appears to be slightly under-read combined with a hot pull, a miss we’ve seen from Rory in the past.


The putt on 16 was far more basic and should have been holed. But we are luminous and responsive beings. You have to wonder if the left miss in recent memory consciously or subconsciously influenced his decision to select a particular target.


 

What Can You Learn?


How do you keep this from happening to you during your next round?


Start establishing better baselines


You might just be guessing or thinking you know what a putt does based on how it looks. But if you’re looking at the same slope on a different stimp/green speed, it has to do something differently.


Now couple uphill and downhill adjustments that may be slight, but still meaningful, and you can be in for a world of hurt with the guessing game.


To stop guessing, you can simply spend some time on the larger sloped putts from short range and start creating some visual recognition of the curvature and what target you need based on the slope and stimp. If you want some help to shortcut that process, The Read series in The Putting Plan will definitely help you learn and understand these key concepts for green reading that will help you become a better short putter.

Let's get you on track together. Click HERE to join your free trial of The Putting Plan. Be sure to join the Full Course for access to the green reading section.


Disclaimer: The course does not teach you how to do AimPoint Express. You should still learn concepts about green reading to build your skills.



2 Comments


Hi Joe! This is by far the most thoughtful comment I've ever read for one of my posts and want to continue the discussion. I'm traveling this weekend for a Putting School, so tonight's interaction will be brief. But before signing off, I love the Nicklaus story. I think the sooner Rory hangs out with Ted Lasso and finds his goldfish, the better off he'll be. I don't feel he's truly done that in the last ten years... If anyone reading this missed the reference, link is below: https://youtu.be/8PmX7zEUg_w?si=6MlZn2U167VdGgux

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i forget where I saw what I'm about to write. It may have been in Apple News. The man who made this analysis is apparently a Dave Pelz kind of guy, highly statistical.


Anyway, he said that his stats on Rory showed that Rory makes all his putts within a very specified time frame. I can't tell you what the marker is where this man starts his stopwatch. I'm supposing it's when the other guy has putted and now it's Rory's turn, which, if this is true, confuses me, because it would seem a longer putt would take longer to read since you have to walk farther to get the read.


This stat guy claims that Rory always takes a…


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