Ranking the 10 Best Putters on PGA Tour Right Now
Every week, the best players in the world try to separate themselves from each other and win tournaments on the PGA tour.
Every fan who attends an event will ooh and ahh over the top players' ability to strike the ball off the tee, play the ball from the fairway, recover from the rough and hit the ball accurately from the bunker.
However, when you look at the top 10 in any tournament, the difference between the winner and the 10th-place finisher is often the way they putted the ball in the tournament.
Putting superbly takes great touch, balance, a consistent stroke, the ability to read greens and confidence. All of those factors can change from year to year, tournament to tournament and hole to hole.
Here's our look at the 10 best putters on the tour.
PGA statistics that rank putters is an important factor, but so is a golfer's ability to make big putts at key moments.
Tiger Woods has already won two tournaments this year, and his putting stroke has been a big part of his success.
Woods believes he is going to make every 15-footer that he stands over, and that confidence is obvious because he makes more of those putts than anyone else on the tour.
Woods took a putting lesson from good friend Steve Stricker prior to winning the WGC-Cadillac Open at Doral earlier this month (source: FoxSports.com). He immediately started rolling the ball straighter and pulling the ball less.
After the win, Woods thanked Stricker for his ability to hone his putting stroke.
Woods ranks second on the tour with an average of 4.92 birdies per round.
Brandt Snedeker is the leading money winner on the tour through mid-March, and that performance comes on the heels of a brilliant 2012 golf season.
Like Tiger Woods, there's a lot more to Snedeker's game than putting, but when he is standing over a tough putt on 17 or 18, his concentration is firm, and he rolls the ball with confidence.
Snedeker leads the tour with an average of 5.62 birdies per round. He is also 12th in strokes gained putting per round.
Notice how the smiling Snedeker becomes all business when he is on the green, and he stays focused on reading the green and putting an excellent stroke on the ball.
Matt Kuchar has won more than $2 million on the tour this season and ranks third in that category among all pros.
Kuchar has improved his putting stroke steadily over the years by making a significant change to his approach.
Kuchar used to let his arms hang down and remain loose (see video above). After he started to take a more compact grip and bring his elbows in closer to his body, he started putting the ball more consistently.
Phil Mickelson has gone to the claw putting grip.
Instead of wrapping his hands around the putter, his claw grip means that his bottom hand (left) is barely on the club.
Mickelson went to the claw grip because his hands were getting too far ahead on impact, and he was not stroking the ball cleanly. The claw grip prevents this from happening, and he is now rolling the ball straighter to the hole.
Mickelson has earned $1.65 million on the tour in 2013, and he is averaging 4.88 birdies per round.
If Steve Stricker is good enough to give Tiger Woods a putting lesson, that means he is one of the best putters on the tour.
In the above video, Stricker offers the simple tip that he has to relieve any tension in his arms before stroking the ball on the green.
Stricker has already earned $1.8 million on the tour in 2013, and he has two second-place finishes to his credit. Stricker gains 1.301 strokes per round while putting, a figure that leads the tour at this early point in the season.
Harry How/Getty Images
While the rest of Kevin Na's game needs quite a bit of work right now, he is rolling the ball well once he gets to the greens.
Na has won just under $93,000 on the tour and has had quite a bit of trouble with his driving distance and accuracy.
Na is a a solid putter. He averages 4.72 birdies per round, a figure that ranks fourth on the tour. He also gains .906 strokes per round through his putting, ranking 11th on the tour in that category.
If it weren't for his putting, Na would have a difficult time remaining on the tour.
Harry How/Getty Images
Aaron Baddeley's putting stroke helps him maintain his position on the pro tour.
He is not going to hit the ball a long way off the tee and does not usually find the fairway. He also struggles to find the greens in regulation.
However, Baddeley can roll the ball well to the hole. He is third on the tour in strokes gained putting in 2013, and he is averaging 4.39 birdies per round, a figure that ranks 17th on the tour.
Bryce Molder is trying to establish himself as a solid golfer on the pro tour.
He is not a star, and he is not likely to become one. However, he is a hard worker and an accomplished putter.
Molder has earned $356,269 on the tour this year, and it's not the result of his driving distance or his ability to play the ball out of the sand, because he struggles in both areas.
However, Molder is putting the ball extremely well this season. He leads the tour in strokes gained per round. He also ranks seventh on the tour with 4.63 birdies per round.
Brian Gay is off to an excellent start in the 2013 season. He has already earned $1.171 million on the tour, ranking 12th among all golfers.
Gay won the Humana Challenge in January, a tournament that earned him more than $1 million in prize money.
Gay is averaging 4.45 birdies per round.
Pay no attention to the 2013 stats when assessing Rory McIlroy.
If you did, you would see that McIlroy, still the top-ranked player in the world, ranks 133rd in strokes gained putting this year.
However, McIlroy appeared to find his game in the final round at Doral when he shot a 65 and finished the round with his swagger intact.
McIlroy led the tour with 4.20 birdies per round in 2012, and that figure demonstrates his ability to make clutch putts.
Look for McIlroy to show off his clutch putting ability in the Masters next month.