If you want to be optimistic about Tiger, here’s the case: He’s in the middle of a swing change, the fourth of his career. Every time he changes his swing it takes 2-3 years to get the hang of the change. Once he gets it figured out, he’s very good.
For instance, he changed his swing in 2010 when he hired Sean Foley as his coach. Just three years later, Woods was playing some of the best golf of his career, winning 5 times on the PGA Tour, and coming one bad shot away from winning the Masters to break his major drought.
But that swing put stress on Woods’ body and it was never good enough to win a major. So, after sitting out most of 2014 with injuries, Woods decided to change things up again. He’s trying to create a swing that’s closer to what he had in the 90s.
It’s flat-out insane for a golfer to change his swing multiple times in his career, but here we are. At Woods’ age, with his baggage, it’s entirely possible that he’ll never be able to get it back.
If you want to be optimistic, you have to give him a year or two to sort through the changes. Maybe he figures it out!
But, if you want to be pessimistic, here’s some ammunition.
On the night before the US Open started, Woods was on the range hitting balls. And he looked pretty good.
Former pro Paul Azinger tweeted, “Watching Tiger Woods on Golf Channel hitting balls. Looks fantastic! Pro tracer on all his shots as well. He’s hitting it nice.”
This is from that session, and you can see what Azinger is talking about:
But when Tiger gets to the course, he can’t control his shots. He’s all over the map. Here’s a shot from his round:
Again, if you want to be optimistic, you say he’s just learning to get comfortable with his new swing, and he doesn’t trust it under the pressure of tournament play.
But, if you want to be pessimistic, you say he’s a basket case mentally. He clearly has the physical ability to hit the right shows. He doesn’t seem to have the mental ability to make it happen.
Like any weekend hacker he can’t bring his swing from the range to the course. He’s totally lost out there and doesn’t trust himself.
This is worrisome because Woods’ strength for years was his mental game. He was stronger upstairs than the rest of the field. Now he’s a mental mess. He can’t trust himself or his swing. That makes him vulnerable for the rest of his career.
Even if he gets the hang of this swing, he’s got too many scars, too many thoughts. He’s going to struggle to figure out what’s what.
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