I.K. Kim’s devastating miss Sunday night of a one-foot tap-in on the 72nd hole to win the Kraft Nabisco put an exclamation point on one of the major stories of the season’s first major championship.
From former prodigy Michelle Wie’s bagging of the belly putter (with no success, as she missed her second consecutive cut), to Kim’s horrifying gimme-that-wasn’t, world No. 1 Yani Tseng’s inability to get anything to drop, and defending champ Stacy Lewis’ final-round charge up the leaderboard that fell just short, flat sticks were front and center at Dinah Shore’s tourney.
Lewis’ switch-er-oo, which happened after the first round, helped her rally from a T29 at the start of Sunday’s finale to a share of fourth place. The 27-year-old from Texas could thank her new putter for helping her to a finishing 6-under 66, which Golf Channel.com’s Randall Mell said equaled her lowest round in a major.
“The biggest change was after my first round, I changed putters,” Lewis told reporters just prior to Sun Young Yoo beating Kim on the first playoff hole. “I wasn’t happy with the way the ball was rolling.”
Her old TaylorMade Corza Ghost center-shafted mallet putter apparently had too much loft for the greens at Mission Hills Country Club, a problem that caused the ball to launch high and go off-path. So Lewis placed an emergency call to her gear supplier. By Friday morning at 6:30, she was testing four models, finally opting — according to a TaylorMade source — for a Raylor Ghost Daytona DA-12 blade with 2.5 loft and a PureRoll Titallium insert, which she played for the rest of the week.
Lewis said the new Anser-style putter — which the TaylorMade source claimed was the No. 1 model on the LPGA Tour — was most like the type of wand she used growing up and one she was comfortable lining up so that “the putts would come off the face really well.”
Her results were a testament to that. From Thursday through Sunday, Lewis steadily decreased the number of times she rolled the ball on the greens, from a high of 32 putts on Thursday, to 31 on Friday, 28 on Saturday, and 25 on Championship Sunday.
The next time up to bat — at the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii from April 18-April 21 — Lewis expects to have just the one Raylor Ghost in her bag but may do some additional tinkering. “We got two weeks to figure that out,” she said.
The L-necked Raylor Ghost is available in several conventional lengths measuring 33, 34, and 35 inches, as well as in a belly model. It features adjustable sole weighting and a white body with black lines to facilitate alignment and follow-through.