Tiger’s struggles in the wake of his latest string of injuries and swing changes have been worse than usual.
Most troublingly, his short game has completely fallen apart. He has been shanking, flubbing, and otherwise mishitting chip after chip in his last two tour events.
The Golf Chanel’s lead analyst Brandel Chamblee said he’d never seen a short game that bad from a professional golfer.
It’s gotten to the point that some fear he has the yips — a mental block that keeps the player from performing a specific, simple action on the course.
One of those people who thinks Tiger has the yips is his old coach Hank Haney. He said on his radio show after the Phoenix Open, “When you have the yips, you have issues. This isn’t going away. This isn’t just a turn of the switch.”
“It starts with technique and morphs into something else. It just doesn’t go away.”
Full disclosure: Hank Haney wrote a whole tell-all book that was critical of Tiger in a bunch of different areas. These two aren’t buddies.
But Haney has a unique perspective on this issue because he suffered from the yips for the better part of two decades.
He told the New Yorker in 2014 that he played fewer than 10 rounds of golf between 1985 and 2002 because he had the driving yips.
Golf instructor Bill Harmon, brother of another one of Tiger’s ex-coaches, told Golf.com that he’s never seen such a bad case of the yips from a pro:
“There are very few pros who don’t think that Tiger has the yips around the greens. The first step in solving the problem is admitting that you have a problem. That is not a weakness, but a strength.
“I don’t buy all of this release stuff. In the last two events that he has played in he had the two worst cases of yips I’ve ever seen from a Tour pro and this coming from arguably the greatest short-game player ever. I’ve had — and sometimes still do — the yips pitching. I know what it is when I see it.”
Others aren’t sold that Tiger has the yips. Guys like Paul Azinger, Phil Mickelson, and Greg Norman have all said they expect Tiger to find his game eventually.
Regardless of whether the cause is mental or physical or some combination of both, Tiger has been all over the place from around the greens.
Even on the range he’s struggling:
If you want to be optimistic, Tiger isn’t necessarily in uncharted waters here. He has incessantly changed coaches and tweaked his swing throughout his career, and those changes have typically been followed by a brief period of poor results. He gets worse before he gets better.
Since he just hired new coach Chris Como a few months ago, he’s still within the grace period he ought to be afforded considering his track record.
But let’s not sugarcoat it, we’ve never seen anything like this out of Tiger.
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