Tiger's Sensational Putting Stroke Prepares Him for Major Triumph

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2013

Tiger Woods' victory at Doral was keyed by his red-hot putting.
Tiger Woods' victory at Doral was keyed by his red-hot putting.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There was a time when the question was not whether Tiger Woods was going to win a major in a given year, but how many he would win.

Woods has not won a major title since capturing the 2008 U.S. Open in a memorable playoff over Rocco Mediate. It was the 14th major championship of his career.

There may have been a segment of golf fans who wanted Mediate to upset the game's best player. Mediate came across as a "regular guy" who was competing against a legend. Woods seemed aloof and distant.

Part of that was due to the pain in his knee. Woods was damaged goods at that point and had a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

He would have reconstructive surgery eight days after beating Mediate and winning the U.S. Open, his 14th major championship.

Woods has gone through a lot of trauma in his career and he would be the first to say that much of that has been self-induced.

However, after a solid year in which he won three tournaments in 2012, Woods has served notice that he is ready to reclaim his title as the world's best golfer and return to the winner's circle in the sport's four major championships.

Woods is a confident golfer who has already won twice. His victory in the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship at Doral was resounding. Woods built a big lead and played it safe on the back nine of the final round to clinch the championship.

Woods hit the ball well with his driver, was better with his irons and was untouchable with his putter. He was the dominant putter in the stellar field and he made every clutch putt he needed to hole throughout the tournament.

He averaged a tournament-best 1.520 putts per hole at Doral.

When Woods was the game's dominant golfer, it was his putting stroke that separated him from the rest of the golfers.

While Woods has great technical skill with the putter and will roll it as true as any golfer toward the hole, his putting ability is also a manifestation of his confidence. When Woods is feeling good about his game, he believes he is the best. Just the way Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus believed it when they were at the top of their game.

Where does that confidence tend to show itself? On the putting green.

It's as if the best players are saying that they know they deserve to win because they have more talent and skill than any of their competitors. That's real confidence.

They can show that ability when they can sink a 13-footer while their nearest competitor rims out that same putt.

It's not about what might have been. It's about taking advantage of the opportunity more than anybody else.

In 2008, Woods won three tournaments prior to the Masters. He didn't win at Augusta that year, but he earned the U.S. Open.

Woods has never failed to win a major when he has won two PGA tournaments prior to the Masters.

He is healthy and he is hitting the ball like a champion.

He is also putting the ball like no other golfer on the tour.

He is in top form and he will almost certainly break his major drought this year.