The 6 Best Clutch Putters in Golf History
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In the end, it always comes down to putting. You don't win the U.S. Open, the British Open, the Masters or the PGA if you can't read greens well and roll the ball consistently.
The greats may be able to hit the ball 300 yards or hit a flop shot within eight feet of the hole, but winning tournaments almost always means hitting at least a few clutch putts.
The greatest putters in the history of the game are the ones who hit clutch putts. It's about technique; it's about confidence, and it's about consistency.
Here's a look at six of the best clutch putters who ever played the game.
Locke is considered one of the game's putting masters.
He played between 1938 and 1959, and he finished in the top three 30 times in the first 59 events he entered.
Locke, a South African native, used a putting stroke that had very little follow through after he made contact with the putt. Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player learned quite a bit from his countryman, but he could not copy his unique putting stroke.
Player said that Locke would have his putter aimed two feet to the right and then square up the ball as he made contact.
"He was so confident," Player told the Golf Channel. "He would start walking to the hole while the ball was still rolling."
Ben Crenshaw is considered one of the most mechanically sound putters of all time. He had a smooth, nearly effortless putting stroke that he had been able to use to make long and difficult putts throughout his career.
This was especially true at Augusta National, where he won the Masters twice.
Crenshaw focused on feeling comfortable before he putted. While his mechanics have been lauded, all Crenshaw wanted to do was feel comfortable before he rolled the ball to the hole.
Billy Casper was one of golf's best players during the 1960s. He won 24 tournaments between 1964 and 1970, and that's more than Arnold Palmer won over a similar period.
At the heart of his success was his consistent and clutch putting. Casper felt confidence in his stroke from the start of his career, and he took comfort from his pre-shot routine. He never strayed from that routine.
Casper established himself when he won the 1959 U.S. Open, defeating Ben Hogan in the process. According to Golf.com Top 100 instructor Eddie Merrins, the Casper-Hogan battle was a contrast in styles.
"It was Hogan hitting nearly every green and Casper chipping and one-putting at every opportunity," Merrins told Golf.com.
Bobby Jones is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time, and his name is often mentioned first in the ultimate golf foursome that would also include Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Jones had every stroke in the book, but his putting with the famed "Calamity Jane" putter only added to his legend.
Unlike some of the great putters who never varied their stroke on the green, Jones often changed his depending on the distance, the green and the type of putt. His ability to master several different putting strokes is what helped make him such a great golfer.
"Augusta's greens weren't built by someone who feared putting," instructor Jim Murphy told Golf.com. "They were designed to separate great putters from merely good ones."
Tiger Woods has won 14 major tournaments in his career, and many of them have come from his ability to make clutch putts.
When Woods is on his game, there are two factors about his putting that make him tough. First, he almost never missed the putts he should make. When Woods has putts that are six feet or less, he drains them.
Some of the clutch putts he has made include a birdie on the 72nd hole of the 2008 U.S. Open to force a playoff against Rocco Mediate and a long roller on the first playoff hole against Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship.
While Woods has not won a major since the 2008 season, his overall confidence with the putter has been one of the keys to his overall success.
Nicklaus is best known for his power and his consistency off the tee and from the fairway.
However, when you win 18 major golf tournaments, you don't do it without having a great putter. One of the keys to Nicklaus' consistency on the greens—he very rarely three-putted—was that he kept his head still and he kept his left arm locked and his shoulder in place.
In his classic 1986 Masters victory, he one-putted six of the final nine greens.