Come the end of a tournament round, it is common for tour golfers to place their ball into the outstretched hand of a young, pleading spectator, or perhaps sign it and give it to the walking scoreboard carrier who goes out with each group. Well, Germany’s Marcel Siem stepped up the ante when he completed his final round at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island yesterday, when he reached over the rope by the 18th green to give a young hopeful his putter.
You read correctly: his putter. A Scotty Cameron broomhandle model that would easily retail for €250. It was a generous gesture, but unfortunately for Siem it was one born out of frustration.
“The last two weeks have been the worst two putting weeks of my life,” starts Siem. “It was just horrible. Two or three years ago I would have thrown the putter in the water or I would have broken it, but today I gave it to a spectator, which I think is a better solution.
“I made a few changes to my putting stroke before the round and then all of a sudden I lost the pace. For three rounds the pace of my putting was fine, but I was not reading the greens well. I made some technique changes and then my putting got worse. It’s really depressing because I played really nicely from tee to green this week, but then when you stop making putts you start getting more aggressive in going for the flags with approach shots. When you start making three-putts it puts you under pressure.”
Siem, 32, finished in a tie for 36th on his debut in the PGA Championship, despite the three putts. A second round of 73, one over par, when Atlantic winds gusted to the tune of 30mph, was the week’s highlight for Siem, and which saw the 2012 French Open champion rise into contention. But then weekend rounds of 71 and 75 in calm conditions saw Siem fall off the pace, and his challenge to make the 2012 European Ryder Cup team also stalled.
“My Ryder Cup chances are really small now, even if I win at Gleneagles,” admitted Siem, although he has risen to 60 in the World Ranking. “I will also play in the European Masters in Switzerland, but I reckon I need to be playing with a short putter at Gleneagles. It has been a year since I played in a tournament with a short putter, but we’ll see.
“Having finished 36th in the PGA Championship with the way I putted, I know I can win tournaments like this. I know my game is good enough.”
Siem did not want to use any excuses, but he did also reveal that the putter he had been using this summer was stolen after the WGC Bridgestone Championship – the same putter he used to win the French Open at the beginning of July.
“I didn’t want to make a big story about it,” says Siem, “but my putter was stolen after the Bridgestone last week. All of a sudden it was gone. That is not the reason I putted badly this week, but it was the long putter I used to win the French Open, so it was a bit of a shame.”
Siem may be unhappy with his putting, but by presenting his putter to a young fan, he at least made one person seriously happy.
Story by Robin Barwick, who travelled to the 2012 PGA Championship with support from Mercedes-Benz