There’s some cautious optimism around Tiger Woods going into the British Open.
His old swing coach Hank Haney, who has been critical of Tiger and even wrote a tell-all book about their relationship, said on Twitter that he has a “real shot to win.” Tiger himself has sounded relatively confident in interviews.
“I feel good. Sunday at Greenbrier is probably the best I hit it in two years. That was fun,” he told ESPN, adding, “I feel like everything’s coming around.”
Tiger is in the middle of yet another swing change. Typically when he changes his swing he’s awful for a few months, and then he starts to turn things around. Maybe that started at the Greenbrier, where he broke 70 in three of four rounds. He’s also playing competitive golf somewhat consistently for the first time in two years, which has to help, right?
Combine that with his past success at St. Andrews, and you have the makings of a theory that Tiger might be BACK this week.
Enter Brandel Chamblee, the lead Golf Channel analyst who has been outspoken about some of Tiger’s career decisions in recent years. In a four-minute, nearly uninterrupted monologue on the Golf Channel, Chamblee threw cold water on the idea that we should be excited about Tiger this week.
He said the Greenbrier was a really easy course, so it doesn’t mean much that Tiger played well there:
“Coming from where he was to where he ended up at Greenbrier, yeah I’d be pleased as well. People have talked about his proximity to the hole but you have to take into account that the greens were pretty soft there, it’s a pretty short golf course. The proximity to the hole for the field there was almost eight feet shorter, or closer to the hole, than the tour average. So it was a very easy golf course to hit good iron shots on. There were 78 players in that field, he was 70th in total driving. He hit a golf ball out of bounds. Another one should have gone out of bounds. He hit one in the water. It wasn’t his best ball striking by a long stretch of the imagination. He only got it up and down half the time, he was ranked near the bottom of the statistics.”
Chamblee’s referring to the fact that Tiger had his best “proximity of the hole” week of his career at the Greenbrier:
He said Tiger is “a shell of the man” he was when he won at St. Andrews 10 years ago:
“Watching Tiger Woods from 2000 to now I’m reminded that there are progressively powerful forms of cost and expense. It’s called a human budget. And it’s just as true mentally as it is physically. Watching Tiger Woods go from belief to doubt, watching him build his body up and then watching it break down, and then watching him having to reconcile all those difficulties and try to manufacture a game and to see how much he struggles with that mentally, he is a shell of the man that he was when he came here in 2000 and 2005.”
He says Tiger’s issues around the greens aren’t solved:
“I do like the changes he’s making in his golf swing, but I do think he’ll have to get a little thinner to get the hands a little higher and get that golf swing a little longer. And then the speed would come back. But that’s a different issue than the problems that he’s still having around and on the greens. You cannot play golf at the highest level if you’re not brilliant around the greens. And all of those issues that everybody thought were shored up at Augusta National, and certainly they looked well that week, they have become an issue again.”
Here’s the whole thing:
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