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The Man Who Can Putt Like a Boy

Faxon was a pretty good putter from the time he first picked up a club. "God gave Brad the ability to be a great aimer," says Andrade, who has been watching Faxon sink putts since he was about twelve. Faxon played table tennis and squash during the winters and had national junior rankings in both. In the summer he caddied, shined shoes and learned the game at the Rhode Island Country Club, where the members began talking about a phenomenon they called a "Faxon par"—three shots onto the green and a twenty-footer into the hole.

A friend from the Barrington High School golf team, Paul Grossman, remembers an afternoon when he and Faxon, as teenagers, were playing the fourteenth hole at RICC. They both drove nicely down the fairway. Grossman suggested a $1 bet on who could hit it closer to the hole. Grossman hit a wedge to about twelve feet. Faxon took a nine-iron and hit it stiff to the pin, a tap-in. "Don't ever bet against me from 100 yards and in," Faxon said.

In the years since he took Grossman's dollar, Faxon has worn grooves into a lot of practice greens, stroking three- and six-footers. But what distinguishes him from thousands of other deft and cocky kids who hang around golf courses and practice a lot is that he never stopped thinking that no one should bet against him from 100 yards and in.

"I used to putt the short ones real firm, like all kids do," he recalls. "And once in a while I'd miss one, and my dad would say, 'Miss a few more like that and you won't be hitting it so firm.'" Faxon's father was describing the way sad experiences on greens traumatize most golfers, causing them to grow up to be tentative putters. That didn't happen to Faxon. "I realized kids have no fear when they putt," he says. "You've got to keep that attitude your whole life."

One reason it didn't happen is the work Faxon has done over the years with Dr. Bob Rotella, the sports psychologist. They chat often and get together when Rotella visits Tour events. "We're constantly trying to get back to being childlike," says Rotella. "Everyone who was a pretty good player had his mind where it needed to be when he was twelve. Most people get way too conscious, too fearful, as they get older. Brad hasn't. He just sees it and rolls it."

Listening to Faxon, it almost seems easy. To putt like Faxon, all one has to do is copy the way he thinks, to be childlike. That shouldn't be hard, his visitor thinks. He's always had an immature streak.

Then Faxon shows him a new toy that his friends at Titleist sent him. It's a clear plastic globe, like those old snow globes, filled with clear liquid. In it is a tee set in a patch of green plastic and a golf ball that says brad faxon. The idea is to take the globe in both hands and flick the wrists in such a way that the ball floats toward the top, lands on the tee and stays there. With a deft movement, Faxon does this. "It must have taken me 500 tries to get it right," he remarks. He hands the globe to his visitor to try.


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