Scotty Cameron repaired Tiger Woods’ legendary putter in a garage.
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Tiger Woods was on fire.
He was nine shots off the lead going into the weekend, but he was able to charge up the leaderboard at Torrey Pines on moving day. He shot a 10-under 62 at the South Course, which is a meaty course.
Watching the action on TV was master craftsman and Woods’ putter whisperer Scotty Cameron, who perked up when the 15-time major winner missed a makable putt. Woods wasn’t pleased, and his Scotty Cameron Newport Teryllium Putter — the wand Woods had used to set or tie 27 records at The 1997 Masters — was about to pay the price as he slammed the head against his staff bag.
“We had tickets to go see the Harlem Globetrotters in downtown San Diego later that day,” Cameron explained on the latest episode of GOLF’sFully Equipped Podcast. “But when [Tiger] asks, I jump. Even today, when he asks, I jump.”
The word “jump” should be emphasized, because Cameron was about to take a major leap for one of his most important clients as he prepared to wind down for the day.
“[Tiger] missed the putt and hit the bottom of his bag with the putter,” Cameron recalled. “And I said, Oh, that’s going to affect [the putter]. I was having lunch with one of my people and told them: We’re going to get a call.”
Cameron was grinding away on his putters two hours after the call.
“I knew it was [Tiger],” Cameron said. “All I said was, ‘How bad is it?’ He tells me [the putter]Is it messed-up? I ask him where he’s at and get directions to his hotel where he’s staying under a name I can’t even say. He leaves the putter at the bell desk.”
At this point, Cameron had to explain to his wife what’s going on behind the scenes with Woods’ damaged putter — and she wasn’t having it.
“My wife’s mad, but I gotta go,” Cameron says. “I’m thinking maybe I can go downtown and stop by there. It was just an alignment issue; he’d bent the heck out of the neck.”
In preparation for “putter surgery,” Cameron loaded up his truck with a loft-and-lie gauge he drilled into his extended tailgate. Then he bolted it in place and secured it using bungee cord. Cameron threw in a flashlight, a toolbox and a few other things (which will come in handy later) before he left to pick up wife and daughter (4 years old) for the trip to San Diego. The Globetrotters were going to have to wait.
When he arrived downtown, Cameron pulled his truck into an underground parking garage and positioned it under the best light he could find, which isn’t saying much when you’re talking about a subterranean setting. From there, he and his daughter strolled into the hotel and picked up Woods’ famed putter.
“I have all the tools I thought I would need,” he says. “So I lay down the tailgate, take off the bungee cords and set up my loft and lie gauge. I have a crescent tool and all my bending equipment to get the neck straight. I know my wife’s hotter than heck in the truck.”
Cameron spent 15 minutes in the truck bed of his truck in a dimly-lit garage, with his daughter holding the flashlight. He was preparing one of the most significant putters in history for the final round.
Confident he’d performed successful surgery, Cameron walked the putter back to the bellhop and high-tailed it to the Globetrotters. His job was done. Woods was now left to test the putter to see if it still worked.
“And damned if he doesn’t go out the next day and win the event,” Cameron said.
Woods tied Billy Ray Brown at the 71st, and then finished the final day with a knockout birdie on the par-5 18, to win the week by two shots. Woods won his first of eight victories in Torrey Pines.
To this day, Cameron knows in his heart that he’d do anything to put Woods in a position to succeed, something he did on that fateful evening in San Diego. He’s done it countless times throughout his illustrious career and is always waiting by his phone for the next time he has to “jump” for Woods.
“If he called right now, I’d take that phone call,” Cameron said. “I will always take that phone call out of the respect we have for each other.”
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