STATELINE – Jack Wagner is known as one of the top, if not the best, putter at the American Century Championship.
But even good putters sometimes have off days, and Wagner got so frustrated he went from a conventional grip to a cross-handed grip for some of his final 12 holes of his round on Saturday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
“I felt it coming on a few years ago, just a little apprehension over some short putts,” said Wagner, who chalked up 23 points for a two-day total of 42. “I practiced a little bit on the putting green. I’m old-fashioned and stubborn. I don’t know if you know anything about that, but I can’t stand change.”
“I hit the green in two on No. 4 and barely 2-putted from 20 feet. Then on No. 5 I hit a great wedge in there, about 15 feet, and 3-putted from 15 feet and missed a 3-footer. I was done after that.”
The first cross-handed grip attempt came on No. 7 when he drained an 8-footer.
“I knocked it right in the jar,” Wagner said. “So I’m kind of going back and forth between conventional and cross-handed. So I’ll need probably a straitjacket tomorrow night. But anyway, I knocked a couple in.”
His final two birdies of the day came on Nos. 11 and 17.
Former LPGA great Annika Sorenstam said she’s never changed her putting grip during a round, but has changed from tournament to tournament.
“Throughout my career I’ve tried a lot of different things,” she said. “It’s funny, I’m trying to get ready for this, and I’ve been taking a few lessons on my swing. Maybe I should have taken some lessons on putting. It’s funny how some parts of the game just don’t feel the same and some parts feel the same.”
Wagner, a two-time ACC champion, was pleased with the rest of the game.
“I hit it great,” Wagner said. “I hit the ball probably as well as I’ve ever hit it yesterday and today. I’m hitting my irons crisp. I’m driving the ball pretty consistently and pretty solidly. I just had a couple of giddy-ups on the green. Otherwise, for me to shoot around par or 1 or 2-under is a really good score for me. I’ll take it.”
TO STABLEFORD OR NOT STABLEFORD
Chad Pfeifer and Josh Scobee had mixed thoughts on whether the Stableford scoring system changes how they approach the game.
“It does change it,” Scobee said after he put up 20 first-day points in his first official round at Edgewood. “It changes the way or how aggressive I am. You can go out and get 18 pars and 18 points. But if you have nine birdies and nine bogeys you have 27 points. It makes me more aggressive off the tee.
“It lends itself to being aggressive and making birdies. That is something you have to do, be aggressive and make putts.”
Pfeifer said it didn’t change the way he approached his round.
“I know it’s nice if you have a blow-up hole,” Pfeifer said. “The most it can cost you is two points. If you’re playing stroke play, you could take a 10 and really fall behind. In that sense it’s great. But other than that, I haven’t changed my game.”