Hozzle rockets, shanks and the yips — phrases no golfer wants to hear.
“Ernie Els will be putting with a live rattlesnake.”
That was David Feherty’s caustic remark as Els teed off at the Tavistock Cup on Monday, a two day exhibition match in Orlando that features PGA Tour players from area private clubs.
Els just smiled, but the comment was biting, coming just a day after the South African, winner of three majors, bludgeoned two short putts in the last three holes of the Transitions Champsion to hand the tournament away and miss a playoff by a single shot. Els looked dumbstruck in a television interview immediately following the tournament, as if he were still trying to make sense of his inability to hole a two foot putt after hitting a miraculous approach from 200 yards.
Add Els to the list of great golfers who saw their efforts waylaid by their struggles with the flat stick. Ben Hogan. Sam Snead. Johnny Miller. Bernard Langer. Tom Watson. Tom Kite. All great ball strikers– all struggled with putting, which to most would seem much easier than hitting a long iron to a tucked pin on Sunday. The could fly in a 7-iron and have it land soft a few feet away from the cup, but couldn’t calm their nerves enough to put the ball in the hole.
Towards the end of Hogan’s storied career – especially 1960, his last year of remarkable play, he would hang over a putt, afraid to pull back the club head. He’d hit more greens in regulation in the Masters and U.S. Open that year and not win either, an indication of just how bad his putting had become.