There’s a first time for everything.
Tiger Woods was – to use a popular expression – today years old when he made a putt on the green with the flagstick in the hole.
It’s hard to believe, but remember, until a year ago, doing so was deemed a penalty until the Rules of Golf were revised in an effort to speed up play. Since the rule change, there have been several studies conducted to determine whether it is an advantage to leave the flagstick in or not, and Adam Scott and Bryson DeChambeau were among the early adopters. The spread of COVID-19 and golfers not wanting to touch the flagstick has made leaving the flag in a popular choice among recreational golfers, but most professionals seem to be set in their ways.
For Woods, his moment came during Saturday’s third round and credit to PGA Tour Live for picking up the audio. After tapping in for par at 17 with the flag in, Woods told playing competitor Rory McIlroy, “That’s my first time.”
McIlroy, with a lilt of surprise in his voice, responded, “Ever?”
“Ever,” Woods said as he broke into a big smile.
“Thank you,” Woods added. “You saw me pause there for a little bit.”
In the midst of raking a bunker, caddie Joe LaCava interjected and said, “If he was 3 under, no chance, Rory.”
After the round, our David Dusek caught up with LaCava, who claims Woods may have holed a putt on the green with the flagstick in before, and just doesn’t remember it. But one thing is for sure: This is the first time Woods ate lunch on a picnic table outside of the media tent with his fellow competitor post-round. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin.”