The only weakness in Vijay Singh's game has been inconsistent putting, but he has found a cure with the belly putter. At last week's Tour Championship he tied for fourth in putts per round (28.5) and drained an 82-foot bomb for eagle on number 15 on Saturday (above), which helped propel him to a three-stroke lead. Said Singh after his third-round 65, "I don't think I'll ever go back to anything else, because I feel so comfortable with what I'm doing." Singh's secret? The belly putter promotes a mechanically sound stroke by anchoring the putter to the body, which produces a true pendulum motion. It's like cheating, and I can't believe the USGA hasn't banned it.
Considering that the golfers played lift, clean and place all week at East Lake, a winning score of 12 under doesn't sound that dazzling, but I attended the first two rounds, and the conditions were brutal—fast greens, tucked pins, gnarly rough and strong wind. The wet conditions all but eliminated the short knockers, as big hitters Singh, Charles Howell, Davis Love, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods finished among the top seven.
Mickelson was second in putting at East Lake despite a flaw I see in many amateurs' strokes: addressing the ball with the putter's toe off the ground. This causes a golfer to aim slightly to the left, which leads to pulled putts. Mickelson has won 21 Tour events with that stroke, but his flawed aim may explain his tendency to yank putts under pressure.
I've got another name for the Tour Championship—the Cream Puff Classic. It's like dessert for the top 30 money winners, a working vacation where even last place is worth $80,000. My heart was in Madison, Miss., where players were fighting to secure their Tour cards for next year at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. Brad Elder, the son of one of my colleagues back in Naples, Fla., needed to win in order to crack the top 125. He was in third place when the tournament was called due to unplayable conditions, a real heart-breaker for Brad and his fans.