Scottie Scheffler struggles with new putter, and Brandel Chamblee thinks he knows why

ORLANDO, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler changed putters Thursday, but the club continued to let him down. Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee is less concerned with the style of putter Scheffler uses than fixing his stroke.

Scheffler, the world No. 1 and 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational champion, shot 2-under 70 at Bay Hill Club & Lodge despite taking 31 putts. That included lipping out a birdie putt of inside 4 feet on the 16th hole. Scheffler lost more than a stroke and a half to the field on the greens, which ranked near the bottom in the 69-man Arnold Palmer Invitational field. After signing autographs for fans, he headed straight to the practice-putting green to work on his stroke and declined to answer questions about switching from a blade to a mallet putter.

Last month, at the Genesis Invitational, Rory McIlroy joined the CBS broadcast after he finished his round and suggested Scheffler should consider such a move.

“For me, going to a mallet was a big change. I really persisted with the blade putter for a long time. But I just feel like your stroke has to be so perfect to start the ball on line, where the mallet just gives you a little bit more margin for error. That, to me, gave me confidence that I could go forward with that knowing that even if I don’t put a perfect stroke on it, the ball’s not going to go too far off line,” McIlroy said. “So, I’d love to see Scottie try a mallet, but selfishly for me, you know, Scottie does everything else so well that, you know, he’s giving the rest of us a chance.”

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Scheffler inserted a TaylorMade Spider Tour X putter into the bag this week. Despite ball-striking that rivaled some of the best seasons of Tiger Woods last year, Scheffler ranked 162nd in Strokes Gained: Putting. He began working with putting coach Phil Kenyon before the Ryder Cup in late September and his confidence in the short stick seemed to be on the rise after avoiding a single three putt or missing a putt inside five feet for the first 71 holes en route to winning the Hero World Challenge in December. That week he switched to a heel-toe weighted blade made by little-known puttermaker Olson Putter Co. But this season, he ranks 144th in SG: Putting entering the week.

Chamblee, for one, expressed concern with Scheffler working with “a highly technical” coach in Kenyon.

“I have no doubt that Phil Kenyon knows a lot of different things as it relates to putting, but he’s been working with him since before the Ryder Cup, so, we’re sneaking up on more than half a year. I feel like most players who make substantive changes in their putting, I think you’d know within 10 minutes on the putting green,” Chamblee said.

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“I think Scottie drags the handle going back and subconsciously you have to create energy from somewhere else and so his grip pressure changes and he has this over-the-top loop and change of direction, which is the reason he hits the ball in the heel. Most great putters let the putter head get behind their hands in the backstroke so the grip end of the putter doesn’t move as much. That’s what I’d like to see. All you have to do is go look at the greatest putters of all time.”

So, the endless pursuit of trying to improve one’s putting continues for Scheffler, who trails by three strokes after one round and will be the defending champion next week at the Players Championship.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek