Tiger Woods hates the long putter:
“I’ve never been a fan of it. I believe it’s the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that’s how it should be played. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that.”
So guess what? At this week’s Memorial Woods will play the first two rounds with Bill Haas and Fred Couples, who both use the belly. Will the sight of them possibly draining putts while he is missing them frustrate Woods and have an impact on his performance? Who knows – but we do know that he is stuck with playing with them for the first two rounds.
Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler are another threesome that must enjoy/endure each other’s company for the first 36. Perhaps a love fest will inspire their game’s to great heights – or maybe the massive galley they will surely attract will be such a distraction that they struggle to match par.
The point: pairings are almost never neutral. Over the first 36 holes a player is either helped or hurt by the group he’s in. To fix this competitive imbalance, I propose that the PGA Tour (and the majors) switch playing partners for the second round. Keep them in the same wave, of course, just move two of the players’ tee times (assuming a threesome) back or forward a group or two.
Changing partners is one of those changes that makes so much sense that it will never happen until a couple of professors from MIT do a detailed study on the impact playing with the same partners has on their results, and on the fairness of the competition.