PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods’ mentoring of Justin Thomas appears to have paid dividends, as Woods has borrowed Thomas’ putting coach, Matt Killen.
Killen was spotted working with Woods on Monday at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players and was walking with Woods, Thomas and Trey Mullinax during a practice round early Tuesday morning.
That Woods has turned to a coach shouldn’t come as a surprise given his performance on the greens in his last two starts. Woods recorded 12 three-putts or worse on poa annua surfaces at the Genesis Open and WGC-Mexico Championship, taking 66 total strokes over the weekend at the latter event. Late in his third round at Chapultepec, he followed a four-putt for double with a three-putt for bogey.
Woods explained Tuesday that tightness in his neck exacerbated an already-poor stretch of putting.
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“Yeah, you can only swing or make the movement as good as your body’s feeling,” he said. “I was starting to get a little stiffer and tighter and unfortunately … as my neck got a little bit tighter, yeah, I didn’t feel comfortable with my putting. But my putting was uncomfortable going into that point. It just made it worse.”
As for his relationship with Killen, Woods said it dates to some “nice chats” at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, where Woods was a vice captain and Killen was coaching J.B. Holmes.
Since then, Killen has been present for several Woods’ practice rounds, both on Tour and in South Florida.
“Matt has seen my stroke enough,” Woods said. “I’ve listened to what he has said to JT over the past year or so, and I really respect what he sees. He’s very knowledgeable. …
“I wanted him to take a look at it, and then he mentioned a few things. As I’ve started to feel a little bit better this week or this past week, then the putting definitely freed up.”