The Tiger Wood saga fascinates me. Not the scandal, but the aftermath and how it has affected his game.
We are constantly told that golf is a mental game (although, come to think of it that may mean that you’re crazy to play it), even though we are inundated with advice on how improve your technique. But if anyone ever had any doubts about the game being played between your ears, they just have to look at what has happened to Woods.
In less than a year he has gone from being arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, to struggling to make a cut. The only thing saving him from not playing the weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational was the fact that it was a no-cut event.
So what happened? He lost his muscle memory and his swing went with it? Bloody unlikely.
This is a guy that his last instructor, Hank Haney, in a Golf Digest article said knew more about his swing than anyone he ever worked with.
How knowledgeable is Tiger about the golf swing?
The most knowledgeable I’ve ever been around. I’ve taught 200 pros from tours around the world, and nobody came close to knowing what Tiger knows.
I think it’s all head games. Too many major distractions in his personal life and Woods’ fabled focus is screwed up.
He’s not having just one problem. Everything’s screwed. His driver has gone south, his irons are bad and the putts aren’t dropping.. He is a walking disaster area.
The question is: Can he make it all the way back?
It’s hard to bet against Woods, especially once his personal life returns to a semblance of order and his focus and self discipline is restored. The question being – can he actually accomplish that.
There have been many fine golfers who have lost their edge and were never able to regain their top form.
A famous example is Australian Ian Baker Finch who won the Open in 1991 and then a couple of years saw his game collapse.
Baker-Finch then famously suffered a complete collapse of his game. The problems were often psychological: He would hit shots flawlessly on the practice range, and then go to the first tee and hit a weak drive into the wrong fairway. In the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, he notoriously hooked his first round tee-shot at the first out-of-bounds on the left side of the fairway shared with the 18th, with attention focused on him as his playing partner was Arnold Palmer, competing in his final Open. In 1995 and 1996 he missed the cut, withdrew after one round, or was disqualified in all twenty nine PGA Tour events that he entered. After shooting a 92 in the first round of the 1997 British Open, an extraordinarily bad score by tournament professional standards, he withdrew from the championship and retired from tournament golf..
Another is David Duval who rose to number one in the world in 1999 and won The Open in 2001. Then his game went sideways, although part of the initial problem may have been some physical issues. But Duval has never been able to regain his old form, although he has shown occasional flashes of his former abilities but still didn’t earn his 2010 tour exemption.
So will Tiger work his way through this? With his past history it is pretty difficult to bet against him, but the mind is a delicate thing. Who would have ever expected that he could play for four days and never get close to par. Eighteen over par for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone this weekend was pretty unbelievable.
Making predictions on something like this is a mugs game. One can only wait and see how things unfold.
But I wonder what the British bookie odds are on this.